Wal-Mart Stores forecast a lower full-year profit than analysts expect, as fewer food stamps, higher taxes and tighter credit erode its sales, news that sent its shares down 1 percent in premarket trading on Thursday.
The world's largest retailer expects net sales growth this year to be at the lower end of its forecast range of 3 to 5 percent, Chief Financial Officer Charles Holley said on Thursday.
Wal-Mart said comparable sales at stores open at least a year in the United States—its biggest unit—fell for a fourth straight quarter, by 0.4 percent. Overall revenue in the quarter through Jan. 31, which includes the key holiday season, grew 1.4 percent to $129.7 billion.
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A major factor in Wal-Mart's U.S. performance was a "low-single-digit decline" in sales of groceries at stores open at least a year, which generate about half of its sales.