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Wal-Mart says holiday looks good

BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Home is among four key categories already driving holiday sales at Wal-Mart Stores, the company reported today during its third-quarter earnings call.

“We are optimistic about the holiday because of the momentum we are starting to see in our business. …Our results are already being driven by some of our key categories -- electronics, toys, apparel and home,” said John Menzer, vice chairman, Wal-Mart Stores. “Our early read is that holiday sales in these categories will be strong.”

While holiday and fourth-quarter performance is already showing promise, Wal-Mart reported less encouraging results for the third quarter for Wal-Mart Stores.

Helped by a double-digit rise in sales and strong operating profits in its warehouse clubs and international units, third-quarter profits at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. edged up just 3.8 percent, to $2.4 billion from $2.3 billion, despite a $109 million after-tax hit from hurricane damage and expenses tied to warranty programs.

Overall sales improved 10.1 percent, to $75.4 billion from $68.5 billion during the same period a year ago. Meanwhile, overall same-store sales improved 3.8 percent, helped by a strong boost from warehouse clubs. Same-store sales at the no-frills Sam’s Club unit jumped up 8.1 percent, more than twice as high as the 2.9 percent increase at the core U.S. Wal-Mart business.

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