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Wal-Mart cuts full year profit forecast

Thursday, August 14 17:00:56

Wal-Mart cut its full-year profit forecast, citing higher employee healthcare costs and increased investment in its online business, and the company said heavy discounting was likely to continue into the holiday shopping season.

As expected, the world's largest retailer also reported flat U.S. same-store sales, excluding fuel, for the second quarter - the sixth quarter of declining or no growth.

Wal-Mart, whose shares were down slightly at $73.90 in early trading, blamed intense competition and weak consumer spending for sluggish U.S. same-store sales.

" ... Consumers are still concerned about cost of living and employment," Chief Financial Officer Charles Holley said on a conference call on Thursday.

U.S. retail sales in July were the weakest since January, data showed on Wednesday.

Wal-Mart is investing heavily in its e-commerce business to improve sales, trying to play catch-up in a market dominated by Inc.

Wal-Mart named a new head for its online business in June, as part of plans to integrate the business with its network of brick-and-mortar stores.

Online sales grew 30 percent to more than $10 billion last year, but accounted for just a fraction of Wal-Mart's net sales of $473 billion.

Wal-Mart said it expected online sales to grow 25 percent in the year ending January. (Reuters)

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