Wal-Mart Stores ( WMT) posted fourth-quarter earnings that beat analysts' lowered expectations by a penny, thanks to a 3.1% rise in same-store sales for the quarter. The Bentonville, Ark., retailer said fourth-quarter earnings were $2 billion, or 45 cents a share, compared with $1.9 billion, or 43 cents a share, in the same period last year. According to a poll by First Call/Thomson Financial, 22 analysts expected fourth-quarter earnings of 44 cents a share. Sales for the quarter were $56.6 billion, up from $51.4 billion last year. "It was a good year but a year that was not quite up to our high Wal-Mart expectations. In a difficult economic environment, we will spend almost $9 billion in capital expenditures and add approximately 8% to our retail square footage," the company said. Wal-Mart closed at $52.36 in Friday trading on the New York Stock Exchange, near the middle of its 52-week range of $41.40 to $64.90.