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Wal-Mart Posts Modest 3Q Profit Gain

Bentonville, Ark., Wal-Mart Stores posted a modest 3.8% gain in profit grown for the third quarter, ended Oct. 31, but said it expects electronics and other general merchandise to propel it to a healthy holiday season.

Income rose to $2.4 billion, or 57? per share, from $2.3 billion, or 54? a share, a year ago. It was the chain’s smallest quarterly profit increase in three years. Wal-Mart said its third-quarter earnings were affected by the higher cost of fueling its large truck fleet and the temporary closing of stores after the hurricanes.

Sales totaled $75.4 billion, an increase of 10.1% over $68.5 billion for the year-ago period. Same-store sales rose 3.8%.

In a conference call with investors, Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott said Wal-Mart sustained sales despite hurricanes, skyrocketing gasoline prices and higher home-heating bills. He called the quarter “a pretty good performance in a difficult environment.”

“I believe we will have a good holiday season,” Scott said. He added that January and February could be difficult months as holiday bills come due and higher heating-oil and natural-gas prices have a greater impact.

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