Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Thursday that it earned a fourth-quarter profit of $5.61 billion, an 8.6 percent increase over the $5.16 billion earned a year earlier.
Earnings per share for the fourth quarter were $1.67, up from $1.50 a year earlier, the Bentonville-based retailer said in a statement. This topped the $1.57 average estimate of 22 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News.
Total fourth-quarter revenue was was $127.9 billion, a 3.9 percent increase from the previous year.
“Walmart topped off a really good year with a solid fourth quarter, and I’m proud of what we accomplished as a team,” Mike Duke, Wal-Mart’s president and chief executive officer, said in the statement.
Meanwhile, Wal-Mart’s board of directors approved an annual cash dividend for fiscal year 2014 of $1.88 per share, an increase of about 18 percent from the $1.59 paid in fiscal 2013.
But Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Charles Holley projected that earnings per share in the current quarter will fall between $1.11 and $1.16 after a fiscal 2013 first-quarter earnings per share of $1.09. This trailed analysts’ average estimate of $1.19, according to 18 surveyed by Bloomberg News.
The less rosy forecast comes as Wal-Mart aims to keep prices low after a payroll-tax break expired Dec. 31, causing Americans to pay 2 percentage points more in Social Security taxes.
Information for this article was contributed by Bloomberg News.