May 17 - Wal-Mart beat profit forecasts as more Americans shopped at its flagship stores, temporarily overshadowing Mexican bribery accusations. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Wal-Mart's turnaround plan is gaining traction. The world's largest retailer says more Americans shopped at its discount stores and spent more money during the past three months, thanks to an early Easter and unusually warm weather. Combined with double-digit international sales growth, company-wide sales jumped to more than $112 billion, thanks to strength in the U.K., Brazil and Mexico. For the time being, Wal-Mart's better-than-expected quarterly results are causing investors to refocus on the retailer's growth story instead of allegations of bribery in Mexico. U.S. same store sales are up three quarters in a row after falling for more than two years before that and store traffic is up for two straight quarters after being down for a year and a half. But Wal-Mart can't rest on that. While it expects sales at U.S. stores opened at least a year to grow between one and three percent in the current quarter, its rival Target expects so-called same-store sales to be up around three percent, in what is expected to remain a tough shopping environment. Conway Gittens, Reuters