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updated: 2/21/2013 8:29 AM

Wal-Mart's 4Q profit up 8.6 pct; outlook wary

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Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is reporting an 8.6 percent increase in fourth-quarter profit. But the world's largest retailer offered a subdued outlook as its low-income shoppers continue to be squeezed by economic challenges.

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Wal-Mart says it earned $5.6 billion, or $1.67 per share, in the quarter ended Jan. 31. That's up from $5.16 billion, or $1.50 per share, a year earlier.

Net sales rose 3.9 percent to $127.1 billion.

Earnings topped estimates of $1.57 per share, but net sales fell short of the $127.8 billion estimate.

The company, based in Bentonville, Ark., says revenue at stores open at least a year rose 1 percent for its namesake U.S. business for the quarter, below the 1.5 percent estimate from Thomson Reuters.

Wal-Mart also raised its quarterly dividend by 18 percent.

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