CHICAGO (Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) Tuesday posted higher quarterly profit as an aggressive holiday advertising campaign drove demand for laptop computers and gift cards in the biggest shopping period of the year.
The world's biggest retailer said net income rose to $3.6 billion, or 86 cents per share, in the fourth quarter ended Jan. 31, from $3.2 billion, or 75 cents per share, a year earlier.
Analysts, on average, expected the discount retailer to earn 83 cents per share, according to Reuters Estimates. Wal-Mart said in January that profit would likely be near the low end of its forecast for 82 cents to 86 cents per share.
Net sales rose 8.6 percent to $89.3 billion.
Wal-Mart has been grappling with rising costs, particularly for energy and health care. At the same time, sales growth has slowed somewhat as its low-income customers cope with steeper gasoline and home heating bills.
Federated reported operating income of $1.194 billion, or $2.45 per share, compared with $763 million, or $2.55 per share, for the same period last year.
Excluding merger integration costs and inventory valuation adjustments, earnings from continuing operations were $2.74 per share.
Analysts, on average, had been expecting it to earn $2.63 per share, according to Reuters Estimates.
The combined airline said its net loss widened to $261 million, or $3.26 per share, compared with $69 million, or $4.66 per share, at a standalone America West Airlines a year ago.
America West, which joined with several outside investors to buy a then-bankrupt US Airways, is being treated as the purchaser in the deal for GAAP accounting purposes, though the combined group took the US Airways name.
Excluding special items including an unrealized loss related to the airline's fuel hedges and merger-related costs, the new US Airways posted a loss of $138 million, or $1.72 per diluted share.
The compares with Wall Street analysts' forecast of a loss of $1.89 per share, according to Reuters Estimates.
On a standalone basis excluding special items, each of the airlines posted narrower losses than in the year-ago quarter.
Earnings rose to $1.29 billion, or 60 cents a share, in the fourth quarter ended Jan. 29, from $1.04 billion, or 47 cents a share, a year earlier.
Analysts on average expected 56 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.
In a statement, the company cited strong sales in installations, in its online and Home Depot Supplyprofessional divisions, and at retail stores.
Sales rose nearly 15.9 percent to to $19.5 billion, while sales at stores open at least a year were up 5.5 percent, the best performance of the year.
The average sale rose to $57.20 in the quarter, an increase of 5.7 percent over the prior year, as new, higher-end appliances and other products lured consumers.
For the year, Home Depot said its market share in appliances rose to 9.7 percent from 8.1 percent, helped by the addition of LG Electronicsproducts.
Installations were up 21 percent for the year, while Home Depot Supply also posted strong growth.
Home Depot last month moved to more than double the size of its supply division, which caters to builders and other contractors, with a $3.2 billion bid for Hughes Supply Inc., a distributor of fire hydrants and construction materials.