Wal-Mart's quarterly comparable sales beat estimates

By By Nandita Bose Markets Reuters

Wal-Mart Stores Inc on Tuesday reported higher-than-expected U.S. comparable sales, driven by higher customer traffic to stores and accelerating online activity, and the world's largest retailer's shares rose more than 2 percent.

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Wal-Mart said sales at U.S. stores open at least a year rose 1.8 percent, excluding fuel price fluctuations. Analysts on average were expecting an increase of 1.3 percent, according to research firm Consensus Metrix.

Net income attributable to Wal-Mart fell to $3.76 billion in the fourth quarter ended Jan. 31 from $4.57 billion a year earlier, reflecting the impact from discontinued real estate projects and severance.

Excluding items, earnings per share stood at $1.30. Analysts on average expected $1.29, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

U.S. store visits rose 1.4 percent, compared with a year-earlier increase of 0.7 percent.

Revenue rose 1 percent to $130.9 billion. Excluding currency fluctuations, it stood at $133.6 billion.

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Online sales increased 29 percent, accelerating from the previous quarter. That business added 80 basis points to fourth-quarter comparable sales.

At Friday's close, Wal-Mart shares had risen 0.36 percent since the start of the year.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Chicago Editing by W Simon and Lisa Von Ahn)