Walmart (WMT) posted stronger than expected third quarter earnings Thursday and said same store sales in its key U.S. market continued to improve, helping it boost earnings guidance for its current fiscal year.

Walmart said its adjusted fiscal third quarter earnings came in at $1.08 per share, well ahead of the $1.01 per share consensus. Group sales, Walmart said, rose 1.4% to 124.9 billion. Adjusting for currency headwinds, Walmart said, revenues rose 2.4% to $126.1 billion, topping Street forecasts. E-commerce sales, Walmart said, rose 43% from the same period last year, well ahead of analysts' forecasts. Walmart said its sees earnings for its 2019 fiscal year, which ends in February, in the range of $4.75 to $4.85 per share

"We have momentum in the business as we execute our plan and benefit from a favorable economic environment in the U.S. We're accelerating innovation and utilizing technology to shape the future of retail,"said CEO Doug McMillon. "We're making shopping at Walmart faster and easier. Our associates are equipped with the tools to serve customers better than ever before, and they're doing a great job. With the holidays approaching, customers can count on Walmart to save them money, and we'll also provide busy families with another important gift -- time back in their day." 

Walmart shares fell 1.9% Wednesday afternoon, a move that takes its year-to-date gain under 1% and values the Bentonville, Ar.-based retail giant just over $300 billion.

Walmart said same-store sales in the United States rose 3.4% from the same period last year, well ahead of the 2.8% forecast, to $80.58 billion, while international net sales slipped 2.6% to $28.79 billion.

Comparable sales at Sam's Club, Walmart said, rose by a better-than-expected 3.2%, and it now expects full-year growth of around 3%, up significantly from its prior forecast that suggested a fall of as much as 1% from the 2018 fiscal year.