Earnings: Wal-Mart | Home Depot | Hewlett-Packard

Wal-Mart Beats Wall Street Expectations

BENTONVILLE, Ark. - (AP) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT), the world's largest retailer, said Tuesday its profit rose 6.3 percent in the first quarter, beating Wall Street expectations.

The company earned $2.615 billion, or 63 cents per share, in the three months ended April 30 from $2.461 billion, or 58 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial had forecast earnings of 61 cents per share.

Wal-Mart said that in its first quarter a year ago that one-time items involving taxes and a legal settlement drove up profits by $145 million or 3 cents per share.

Its overall revenue rose to $80.47 billion from $71.68 billion a year ago.

Sales at Wal-Mart stores in the U.S. open for at least a year rose 3.8 percent in the first quarter. Known as same-store sales, the figure is considered the best measure of a retailer's health.

"The success of this quarter was the result of our focus on three goals: driving sales, reducing costs and improving inventory management," Wal-Mart president and chief executive Lee Scott said in a statement.

The company said it expects profits in its second quarter to be between 70 cents and 74 cents per share. For the 2007 fiscal year, Wal-Mart reiterated its earnings guidance of $2.88 to $2.95 per share. Wal-Mart said it expects same-store sales to be up between 2 and 4 percent for the second quarter.

Home Depot Reports Jump In Profit

ATLANTA - (AP) - The Home Depot Inc. (HD), the nation's largest home improvement store chain, reported a 19 percent jump in first-quarter profit on a double-digit increase in sales.

The results, announced Tuesday by the Atlanta-based company before the market opened, beat Wall Street expectations.

Home Depot said it earned $1.48 billion, or 70 cents a share, for the three months ending April 30, compared with a profit of $1.25 billion, or 57 cents a share, for the same period a year ago.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were expecting earnings of 67 cents a share.

Revenue in the first quarter rose 13.1 percent to $21.46 billion, compared with $18.97 billion recorded in the same period a year ago.

The company acquired Hughes Supply in the first quarter, and that company's results are included in Home Depot's consolidated results for the final month of the quarter.

For comparability purposes, The Home Depot said it will no longer report sales at stores open at least a year, a key retail barometer also known as same-store sales, but will now report total sales growth for both of its segments as a percentage change over the prior period.

The company said it increased its average sales ticket in the first quarter by 4.3 percent to $60.75.

Home Depot operates 2,051 stores in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

In late March, Home Depot completed its $3.2 billion purchase of Hughes Supply Inc., a distributor of construction, repair and maintenance products.

The deal, announced Jan. 10, called for Home Depot to pay $46.50 per outstanding share for Orlando, Fla.-based Hughes Supply and assume $325 million in debt.

The deal, Home Depot's largest acquisition ever, doubled the size of The Home Depot Supply division, which serves business customers, such as homebuilders, professional contractors, municipalities and maintenance professionals.

Hughes Supply has more than 500 locations in 40 states.

In part because of the acquisition, Home Depot said its Home Depot Supply division saw its sales jump to $2.13 billion in the first quarter, compared with $657 million in the year-ago period. It saw the segment's operating profit jump to $149 million in the quarter, compared with $28 million in the same period a year ago.

Hewlett-Packard Benefits From Stronger PC Demand

SAN FRANCISCO - Hewlett-Packard Co.'s fiscal second-quarter profit rose 51 percent Tuesday as the printer and computer company benefited from cost cutting, stronger PC demand and a 5 percent jump in revenue.

For the three months ended April 30, HP earned $1.46 billion, or 51 cents a share, compared with $966 million, or 33 cents per share, in the same quarter last year. Sales rose to $22.6 billion from $21.6 billion in the second quarter of last year.

Excluding $97 million in amortization and other one-time expenses, HP earned $1.6 billion, or 54 cents per share.

On that basis, which does not comply with generally accepted accounting principles, HP beat Wall Street's expectations. Analysts were expecting the company to earn 49 cents a share on sales of $22.6 billion, according to a Thomson Financial survey.

HP shares rose 5 percent on the news. Earlier, they lost 52 cents to close at $31.11 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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