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    Wal-Mart Earnings Rise 19 Percent

    BENTONVILLE, Ark. - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said today its first-quarter earnings climbed 19.4 percent from the same quarter a year ago, The Associated Press reports.

    BENTONVILLE, Ark. - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said today its first-quarter earnings climbed 19.4 percent from the same quarter a year ago, The Associated Press reports.

    The world's biggest retailer earned $1.65 billion, or 37 cents a share, for the three months ending April 30, up from $1.38 billion, or 31 cents a share, a year ago.

    Total sales rose 14.4 percent to $54.96 billion from $48.56 billion a year ago. Sales in stores open at least a year were up 8.1 percent.

    The increase in same-store sales included an increase of 8.6 percent for Wal-Mart stores and a 5.7 percent rise for the company's Sam's Club wholesale stores.

    "Our earnings growth exceeded our sales growth and our total shareholder return target," Wal-Mart president and chief executive Lee Scott said. "Further, our return on assets also improved. We are confident our earnings momentum will continue and look forward to reporting another record year in sales and earnings."

    As of April 30, the company had in the United States 1,622 Wal-Mart stores, 1,113 Supercenters, 503 Sam's Clubs and 31 Neighborhood Markets - the company's new grocery stores. Internationally, among eight countries and Puerto Rico, the company's biggest presence remained in Mexico, which has 563 units. In all, Wal-Mart has 1,186 international stores.

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