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Last Updated: Monday, 14 November 2005, 13:18 GMT
Back to school sales aid Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart store in New Jersey, United States
Wal-Mart is the world's biggest retailer
Retail giant Wal-Mart has thanked strong back-to-school sales for a 4.3% rise in second quarter profits.

Releasing its results for the three months to 31 October, it made a net profit of $2.4bn (1.4bn) compared with $2.3bn in the same period last year.

The US firm, which owns Asda in the UK, said total quarterly sales were up 10.1% from last year to $75.4bn.

Same-store sales from those outlets open for at least a year were up 3.8%. The results met market expectations.

Festive optimism

Second quarter figures were hit by $80m in one-off charges, including lost sales due to the hurricanes in the southern states of the US, and the settlement of an anti-competition legal case with credit card providers Visa and Mastercard.

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, said the results of its current third quarter, would also achieve Wall Street's targets.

"Even with the lingering impacts of the hurricanes, and the impact of higher energy prices, I believe we will have a good holiday season," said Wal-Mart chief executive Lee Scott.

He added that while January and February could prove challenging as holiday and heating bills arrive, the improving US economy would drive stronger profits in 2006 as a whole.

In the UK, earnings at Wal-Mart's Asda subsidiary missed targets amid fierce competition.

Mike Duke, head of international operations at Wal-mart, said that "Asda sales and profit fell short of the plan" during the most recent quarter.

He continued that "the UK market continues to be very competitive and challenging".

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