Page last updated at 14:12 GMT, Thursday, 14 May 2009 15:12 UK

Wal-Mart's profits and sales flat

Wal-Mart store in California
Sales at Wal-Mart's US stores rose in the first three months of this year

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, has announced flat profits and slightly lower sales for the first three months of this year compared with a year ago.

Net profits came in at $3.02bn (£2bn), exactly the same as achieved in the same period last year. Sales were $93.5bn, down from $94bn a year ago.

The company said changes in currency rates hit sales to the tune of $4.8bn.

Asda, the UK supermarket owned by Wal-Mart, saw like-for-like sales excluding fuel grow 8.4%.

That was more than the 7.2% growth seen in the last three months of 2008.

Wal-Mart chief executive Mike Duke said Asda had had a "stand-out quarter".

'Very good start'

Compared with some retailers, Wal-Mart has traded well during the recession as US consumers look for value-for-money products.

"We're pleased to report that fiscal year 2010 is off to a very good start," said Mr Duke.

"These results were achieved in the face of a very challenging global economy," he added.

Sales in the US grew by 3.8%, while those at international stores fell by 11.1%.

Like supermarkets in the UK, Wal-Mart has benefited from the growing number of consumers cutting back on going out for meals as a means to save money.

On Wednesday, official figures showed that retail sales in the US fell 0.4% in April, much more than had been expected.

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