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Wal-Mart CEO says he expects 'positive' 4Q sales

Wed, 10/13/2010 - 7:05am
The Associated Press

The CEO of Wal-Mart Stores expects positive U.S. sales in the fourth quarter this year as it works to turn around several quarters of sluggish sales.

CEO Mike Duke made the remark at an investor meeting in Rogers, Ark., on Wednesday.

Executives from Wal-Mart's U.S., international, and Sam's Club units are outlining plans to improve growth at the meeting.

The world's largest retailer benefited during the recession as affluent shoppers traded down to cheaper stores. But stubbornly high unemployment and tight credit are still squeezing its main U.S. customers, lower-income workers who are having even more trouble stretching dollars to the next payday because of tight credit and an unemployment rate stuck at almost 10 percent.

In its most recent quarter, Wal-Mart's international business rose almost 16 percent to $25.9 billion, while total Walmart store revenue in the U.S. rose a meager 0.6 percent to $64.6 billion.

The company has also been trying to fix some merchandising missteps, restoring items it cut last year and returning to everyday low pricing after steep rollbacks failed to excite shoppers.

Sam's Club warehouse clubs have performed better than U.S. stores. That unit reported second-quarter revenue rose 3.4 percent to $12.46 billion.

On Wednesday, the company said it will expand electronics and jewelry offerings at Sam's Club, including selling Apple Inc.'s iPhone and iPad.

CEO Mike Duke said improving U.S. revenue in stores open at least a year is a "critical" priority.

That measure is a key indicator of a retailer's performance because it excludes growth at stores that open or close during the year.

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