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    Wal-Mart's Second-quarter Profit Rises 26 Percent

    BENTONVILLE, Ark. - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. today reported that its fiscal second-quarter profit rose 26 percent.

    BENTONVILLE, Ark. - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. today reported that its fiscal second-quarter profit rose 26 percent. Net income was $2.04 billion, or 46 cents a share, for the period ended July 31, compared with $1.62 billion, or 36 cents a share, a year earlier.

    Total sales rose 13 percent to $59.69 billion from $52.8 billion. Same-store sales rose 6.4 percent, with a 7.1 percent increase at Wal-Mart stores and a 3.4 percent rise at Sam's Club stores. Total sales for Wal-Mart stores rose 14.1 percent to $38.6 billion, and Sam's Club total sales rose 9.2 percent to $7.9 billion.

    "For the first time in our history, we generated over $2 billion in net income in a non-holiday quarter," president and CEO Lee Scott said in a statement.

    Citing a "modest slowing in sales trend" at the end of the second quarter, Wal-Mart said it now expects same-store sales to increase 4 percent to 6 percent in the third quarter. Its previous forecast for same-store sales growth was in the range of 5 percent to 7 percent, but that was up from a forecast of 3 percent to 5 percent growth earlier in the year.

    In a prerecorded conference call message, Scott said that although sales slowed in late July, those weeks constituted a "transitional period" between summer clearances and fall sales. Although the slower sales are a concern, Wal-Mart isn't yet convinced they represent a trend, Scott said.

    In the face of slowing sales, Wal-Mart said it improved its profit gross margin without raising prices. The company said its merchandise strategy has resulted in fewer markdowns and increased sales of high-margin goods. Wal-Mart also cited reduced shrinkage.

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