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Wal-Mart Rises After Rosy Report

Updated from 12:24 p.m. EST

Shares of Wal-Mart (WMT) got a boost Tuesday after the retailing giant beat fourth-quarter earnings targets and gave a relatively solid forecast for the first quarter and year.

The company's stock recently was up $1.46, or 3%, to $49.94.

The Bentonville, Ark., behemoth earned $3.94 billion, or 95 cents a share, for the quarter ended Jan. 31, up from $3.59 billion, or 86 cents a share, a year earlier. The latest quarter included a 2-cent-a-share tax benefit.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial projected earnings of 90 cents a share; Wal-Mart's own guidance had called for earnings of 88 cents to 92 cents a share.

Revenue rose to $99.07 billion from $89.25 billion a year earlier. Analysts projected sales of $99.6 billion.

Howard Davidowitz, chairman of retail consulting and investment-banking firm Davidowitz & Associates, says the world's largest retailer made some smart moves to help boost results, including getting out of Germany and South Korea, limiting its exposure to fashion, and moving more aggressively in China and India.

"I think Wal-Mart is at the beginning of an earnings upswing," he says.

U.S. same-store sales rose 1.6% for the quarter, with a 1.3% gain at Wal-Mart stores and a 3.1% gain at the Sam's Club warehouse chain. The company said Wal-Mart stores continued to be weighed down by soft apparel and home goods sales.

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