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Wal-Mart eyes inventory levels

Bentonville, AR — Wal-Mart will be intent on balancing its inventories in the current quarter after recording disappointing first quarter sales. That might result in the giant retailer scaling back some ordering, executives said during the company's quarterly conference call yesterday.

Companywide, inventories were up 13.4 percent on a 9.7 percent total sales increase during the first quarter. Comps sales for Wal-Mart stores increases 2.1 percent, and Sam's recorded a 2.2 percent increase in comps.

"It's clear our sales increases were less than planned, which led us to undesirable inventory levels," said president and ceo Lee Scott. "We have some work to do in the coming quarter to bring our inventories down to the appropriate levels."

Scott acknowledged the higher inventories have created some markdown exposure for Wal-Mart. However, he said that's already been factored into the company's earnings forecasts.

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