Wal-Mart sales slip, outlook 'cautious'

Wal-Mart posted disappointing quarterly sales on Thursday as shoppers pinched by higher payroll taxes and gas prices made fewer trips to its stores.

The nation's largest retailer reported earnings per share for the second quarter of $1.25 excluding-items, meeting estimates. Revenue was $116.9 billion, less than the projected $118.473 billion.

After the quarterly earnings announcement, Wal-Mart stock retreated Thursday. (For the latest stock price, click here.)

The company reported same-store sales in the U.S. had slipped 0.3 percent in the second quarter. Analysts had expected same-store sales to gain 1 percent.

"Economic conditions in many of our markets around the world remain difficult," CFO Charles Holley said. "The U.S. retail environment remains challenging, with virtually no inflation in food and higher payroll tax instituted earlier in the year. High fuel prices can impact spending as well. Our expectations for the back half of the year are through a lens of cautious consumer spending."

Wal-Mart now expects net sales to rise only 2-3 percent for the year, down from an earlier forecast of a 5-6 percent increase. The retailer also lowered its profit forecast by 10 cents per share and now expects earnings of $5.10 to $5.40.

—By CNBC.com, with Reuters.