• Net income from continuing operations up 9.2% to $3.74bn
  • Sales up 8.6% to $112.3bn
  • US sales up 5.9% to $66.3m. 

The world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc, today (17 March) reported an increase in first-quarter net profit helped by better-than-expected sales in its US business.

Net income rose 10.1% to US$3.7bn for the quarter ended 30 April. Net income from continuing operations was up 9.2% to US$3.74bn, as operating income rose 8.3% to $6.3bn. Revenue grew 8.6% to $112.3bn.

Sales in its US operations increased 5.9% to $66.3bn with comparable store sales rising 2.6% - beating its forecast for flat to 2% growth. Comparable store sales in the US have now grown for the past three quarters, following nine consecutive quarterly declines.

"In a highly competitive retail environment, Wal-Mart US is increasing price separation across categories and driving increased traffic to both the grocery and general merchandise areas of our stores. That strategy was reflected in the 2.6 % comp," said president and CEO Mike Duke.

"Customers count on us for one-stop shopping and our merchandising priorities are aligned with that in mind. Wal-Mart US also grew operating income faster than sales this quarter."

Its international division recorded 15% sales growth to reach $32.1bn in sales.

"Walmart International delivered strong sales growth in the first quarter and operating income grew faster than sales, increasing more than 20%," added Duke.

"We are very focused on improving profitability and returns, and with greater transitions to everyday low price in more markets, we have stronger customer traffic, which contributed to net sales growth."