Wal-Mart's comparable sales miss estimates

By By Nandita BoseMarketsReuters

Wal-Mart Stores Inc on Thursday reported lower-than-expected quarterly sales at established U.S. stores, hurt by food deflation, and its shares fell nearly 3 percent.

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The world's largest retailer said sales at U.S. stores open at least a year rose 1.2 percent, excluding fuel price fluctuations, in the third quarter ended Oct. 31. That is weaker than market expectations of a 1.3 percent rise, according to research firm Consensus Metrix.

Wal-Mart raised the low end of its fiscal 2017 profit forecast to $4.20 a share from $4.15 and kept the high end at $4.35.

Net income attributable to Wal-Mart fell to $3.03 billion, or 98 cents per share, from $3.3 billion, or $1.03 per share, a year earlier. Analysts on average expected 96 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net sales rose 0.5 percent to $117.2 billion. Online sales growth accelerated from the previous quarter, with a 20.6 percent increase.

The retailer's revision of its profit outlook was in line with rivals that expressed optimism ahead of the holiday season. On Wednesday, Target Corp raised its earnings forecast and reported a better-than-expected rise in quarterly profit, helped by a strong back-to-school shopping season and robust online sales.

At Wednesday's close, Wal-Mart's shares were up more than 16 percent since the start of the year.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Chicago; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)