Quarterly reports: Wal-Mart up, Federated down

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, posted a 21% increase in second-quarter earnings, The Associated Press reports.

Meanwhile, Federated Department Stores said its earnings fell by more than 50%.

Wal-MartThe Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer saw international growth and sooner-than-expected improvement in its warehouse division, earning $2.44 billion in the quarter ended July 31. That compares with $2.02 billion in the same period a year ago.

Wal-Mart earned $2.28 billion in its continuing operations, up from $1.99 billion a year ago. Sales for the quarter increased 11% to $62.6 billion.

“Beginning in July, we saw improved spending trends,” Wal-Mart president and chief executive Lee Scott reportedly said.

Scott said new federal income tax withholding rates and child-care tax credits boosted sales, but cautioned that sustained increases in spending depend on reining in unemployment and improvements in personal income.

Sales in the repositioned Sam’s Club were up 7.7%, and earnings rose almost 13% to $309 million from $274 million. The division has been placing greater emphasis on serving small businesses and leveraging costs to lower prices.

The international division earned $561 million, up 19% from $472 million.

The company’s core Wal-Mart Stores segment, which includes Supercenters and Neighborhood Market grocery stores, had profits of $3.32 billion, up 9% from $3.04 billion in the year-ago quarter.

Net sales for the six months ended July 31 were $119.4 billion, up 10.5%. Net income rose to $4.1 billion from $3.6 billion, or 81 cents per share, in the previous year.

As of July 31, Wal-Mart had 3,445 domestic stores and 1,305 international units. Wal-Mart also has a 35 percent interest in Seiyu Ltd., which has more than 400 stores in Japan, and an option to buy the remainder of Seiyu.

Federated Department Stores Inc. The Cincinnati-based operator of stores such as Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s reported a profit of $120 million for the quarter that ended Aug. 2.

That compared with profits of $282 million a year ago, when it reported a big gain from the sale of part of its catalog and online operations.

Sales fell 1.5% to $3.43 billion from $3.48 billion. Sales at stores open at least a year fell 1.2%.

In the year-ago quarter, Federated reported a $149 million gain from the sale of some assets of its money-losing Fingerhut Corp. operations, including the corporate headquarters in Minnetonka, Minn., two distribution centers and a data center. Without the gain, earnings would have been $133 million a year ago.

For the first half, the company earned $166 million compared with earnings of $371 million a year ago. Sales dropped 3% to $6.72 billion from $6.94 billion.

Federated also operates stores under the names Bon-Macy’s, Burdines, Goldsmith’s-Macy’s, Lazarus-Macy’s, and Rich’s-Macy’s.