Wal-Mart says profits won't meet its forecast

Bentonville, Ark. - Wal-Mart said Friday that key earnings figures may come in at the low end or below its prior forecasts for its fourth quarter and full fiscal year. It also said a widely-watched sales metric for the fourth quarter, which includes the holiday season, will be lower than its previous forecast.

The world's biggest retailer said the lower earnings outlook reflects accounting for some Brazil-related charges and other items. Chief Financial Officer Charles Holley said in a statement that these items were not anticipated when Wal-Mart previously provided its forecasts.

The lowered outlook for sales at stores open at least a year was due in part to eight winter storms that resulted in some store closings, Holley said. He added that its Sam's Club locations were hurt by weather throughout the quarter.

The sales performance was also hindered by a bigger-than-expected impact from the federal government's reduction in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits that went into effect on Nov. 1, Holley said.

Wal-Mart didn't provide specific numbers to go with its revised forecasts.

The retailer only said that its fiscal fourth-quarter and full-year adjusted earnings from continuing operations may come in at or slightly below the low end of its prior forecasts. It previously projected fourth-quarter adjusted earnings from continuing operations between $1.60 and $1.70 per share. Its 2014 guidance was for $5.11 to $5.21 per share.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet predict fourth-quarter earnings of $1.65 per share and full-year earnings of $5.16 per share.

It also said sales - excluding fuel - at Walmart and Sam's Club locations in the U.S. open at least a year would be slightly below its prior forecasts.

The chain previously expected the key sales figure would be relatively flat at its namesake locations in the U.S. and that it would be between flat and 2 percent at Sam's Club. Sales at stores open at least a year is a closely-watched indicator of a retailer's health.

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