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‘Difficult times…Wal-Mart times’ 

Bentonville, Ark. -- Despite a 10% boost in third-quarter earnings, Wal-Mart Inc. lowered expectations for full-year profits today, pointing to the impact of a stronger dollar on its international results.

Wal-Mart now projects earnings per share from continuing operations for the full year to be from $3.42 to $3.46. Previously, the company expected fiscal year earnings of $3.43 to $3.50.

During a recorded call about the quarterly results, Tom Schoewe, cfo, said that foreign currency exchange will impact full-year earnings by approximately 6 cents per share.

The home department merited only a passing reference during the call, when ceo of U.S. operations Eduardo Castro-Wright noted the category’s performance had improved, along with hard lines. He also said inflation is running in mid-single digits in the category, as it is in apparel.

The U.S. operation recorded a 2.7% comp increase, although traffic remained flat. Sales rose 6.1% to $61.2 billion.

Total corporate sales for the quarter ended Oct. 31 were $97.6 billion, up 7.5% from $90.8 billion in the year-ago period.

Earnings climbed to $3.14 billion, or 80 cents per share, compared to $2.86 billion, or 70 cents per share, in last year’s quarter.

Although Wal-Mart lowered expectations, Castro-Wright said he was optimistic about the fourth quarter. “These are difficult times, but these are Wal-Mart times,” he said.

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