Wal-Mart and Asda see sales rise

The world’s biggest supermarket, Wal-Mart, has missed expectations for its profits in the third quarter of this year, despite seeing sales increase compared to 2010.

Wal-Mart, which owns the UK’s Asda supermarkets, said it had seen continuing slowdown in its dominant US market as consumers saw their incomes squeezed, but still managed to raise sales more than analysts expected.

Net sales rose 8.2 per cent to $109.5bn (£68.5bn) in the quarter to the end of October, reversing nine straight quarters of falls.

"Every business segment is stronger today than it was a year ago," chief executive Mike Duke said in a statement.

Net profit from continuing operations was $3.34bn (£2.08bn), or 97 cents per share, compared with $3.44bn, or 95 cents per share in the same period in 2010.

Asda, the UK’s second-biggest supermarket, said sales rose 1.3 per cent at stores open for more than a year, excluding fuel and VAT as it benefited from revamped own-brand food ranges and a pledge to be cheaper than rivals.

That followed 0.5 per cent growth in the second quarter and 0.1 per cent in the first.

Wal-Mart’s per-share result was helped by there being fewer shares in issue during the quarter. It had forecast a profit of 95 cents to $1.00 per share while analysts on average expected 98 cents, according to a Thomson Reuters poll.