Wal-Mart raises first-quarter earnings forecast
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) on Thursday reported a 0.7 percent rise in March sales at U.S. stores open at least a year, which was below Wall Street expectations, but the world's largest retailer raised its first-quarter earnings forecast.
Analysts, on average, were expecting the company's March same-store sales to rise 0.9 percent, according to Reuters Estimates, while the company had forecast sales to be flat to up 2 percent.
The retailer said net sales in the five weeks that ended April 4, rose to $36.97 billion from $34.26 billion a year earlier.
Same-stores sales, a key gauge of retail health, rose 0.9 percent at the company's U.S. Wal-Mart stores, driven by strength in grocery, health and wellness and entertainment products.
Wal-Mart said it had "solid Easter sales."
Sales at the Sam's Club warehouse stores fell 0.7 percent. Including the impact of rising gasoline prices, sales rose 2.1 percent at Sam's Club, which operates gas stations.
Wal-Mart now expects earnings per share from continuing operations for its fiscal first quarter of 74 cents to 76 cents, up from a previous forecast of 70 cents to 74 cents per share.
(Reporting by Nicole Maestri and Martinne Geller, editing by Maureen Bavdek)
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