Wal-Mart sales growth smallest in five years

After reporting its weakest quarterly growth in sales in almost 5 years, Wal-Mart forecast 2nd quarter profit below estimates of analysts, as harsh weather kept shoppers away from its stores.

In the first quarter ended April 30, Wal-Mart’s net income dropped to $3.59 billion, or $1.11 per share, from $3.78 billion, or $1.14 per share, a year ago. Bad weather slashed earnings by 3 cents a share.

Earnings per share from continuing operations was $1.10. The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company expects earnings of $1.15-$1.25 per share from continuing operations.

Total revenue increased by 0.8% to $114.96 billion.

It was difficult for shoppers to visit Wal-Mart's huge stores, mostly located on the suburbs of cities and towns, because winter storms snowed out access routes.

The world's largest retailer has also been coping with a steep cut in benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

The company said that due to bad weather, customer visits decreased by 1.4% and same-store sales by 0.2%.

The stock has dropped 1.4% during last one year, compared to 6.4% rise in the Dow Jones global retailers index and an 8.8% rise in the Dow Jones Industrials index.