Wal-Mart Stores on Thursday reported slightly higher-than-expected quarterly sales at established U.S. stores as customer visits increased and online purchases accelerated.
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Earnings per share came to $1 in the first quarter ended on April 30, exceeding the analysts' average estimate of 96 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Consolidated net income fell to $3.04 billion from $3.08 billion due to an increase in the tax rate.
Wal-Mart said sales at U.S. stores open at least a year rose 1.4 percent, excluding fuel price fluctuations. Analysts were expecting a 1.3 percent increase, according to Consensus Metrix.
For the second quarter, Wal-Mart said it expected a rise of 1.5 percent to 2 percent in U.S. same-store sales. It forecast earnings per share of $1 to $1.08, against market expectations of $1.07.
Online sales rose 63 percent, an acceleration from previous quarters. The company said most of the growth was from its existing online operations rather than from acquisitions.
Wal-Mart's performance, along with rival Target Corp's results on Wednesday, bucked a string of weak results by department store retailers like Macy's Inc. On Wednesday, Target reported higher-than-expected quarterly earnings and sales and set an optimistic tone for the year.
Shares of Wal-Mart were up 1.2 percent at $76 before the market opened. As of Wednesday's close, the stock had risen 8.7 percent so far this year.
(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Chicag; Editing by W Simon and Lisa Von Ahn)