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Wal-Mart reports lower profits but higher US sales

[NEW YORK] Wal-Mart's namesake US stores turned in another quarter of increased sales Thursday, although the retailing giant reported a drop in profits due to higher expenses.

Walmart US, the biggest division at Wal-Mart Stores, scored a 1.8 per cent rise in comparable sales in the second quarter compared with the year-ago period, its 12th straight quarter with positive sales in the closely-watched benchmark.

Net income fell 23.2 per cent to US$2.9 billion.

Revenues rose 2.1 per cent to US$123.4 billion.

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Thursday's results are the latest in a series of reports in which the world's biggest retailer has lifted overall sales through store beautification, higher employee pay and stepped-up investment in e-commerce.

"Our customers are responding to the improvements in stores and online," said chief executive Doug McMillon. "We are moving faster and becoming more creative as we strive to make every day easier for busy families."

The results also reflected the effect of aggressive investments to keep prices low in response to price actions at other retailers, the company said in a presentation that accompanied earnings.

Wal-Mart projected full-year profits of US$4.30 to US$4.40 per share, in line with analyst estimates for US$4.37.

Shares dropped 2.0 per cent in pre-market trading to US$79.36.