Page last updated at 16:12 GMT, Thursday, 18 February 2010

Wal-Mart sees lower sales in US

Wal-Mart store in California
Wal-Mart says it remains focused on increasing its sales

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, has seen sales fall in its home market and said that conditions in the US remain "challenging".

Group same-store sales in the US fell 1.6% in the three months to January.

Overall sales, including its overseas businesses, rose 4.6% to $112.8bn (£72.4bn). Net profit rose 22% to $4.63bn from $3.8bn a year ago.

UK supermarket Asda, which is owned by Wal-Mart, reported a 4.6% rise in sales in the quarter.

Asda chief executive Andy Bond said the group had beaten its sales and profit targets for the three months and the full year.

However, he also said that the company had become "too promotional" in 2009.

"Be in no doubt that Asda will return with force to our 'Every Day Low Prices' model in 2010," he said.

International growth

Shares in Wal-Mart fell almost 2% when trading began in New York as the results fell below analysts' expectations.

"Wal-Mart numbers were disappointing on the sales line, painting a picture that the retail sector is improving, but still at depressing levels," said Craig Peckham, strategist at Jefferies and Co.

Net sales for the full year rose to $405bn from $401bn the previous year.

"We expect continued strong growth from International this fiscal year," said Mike Duke, Wal-Mart president and chief executive.

"US sales will be more challenging in the first quarter, as Wal-Mart US cycles through strong year-over-year comparisons and deflation. We remain focused on growing top line sales, and expect improvement in the United States as the year progresses."

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