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Wal-Mart de Mexico Q1 profit up 6%


Mexico City Wal-Mart de Mexico SA said Tuesday that net income rose 6% in the first quarter as the company cut prices to increase sales amid Mexico's economic slowdown.

Profit at the Mexican unit of Wal-Mart Stores climbed to 3.5 billion pesos (US$243 million) from 3.2 billion pesos in first quarter 2008, the company said in an earnings report.

Sales rose 8% to a record 61.4 billion pesos (US$4.2 billion) as the retailer slashed prices to draw shoppers who are seeking bigger bargains as the economy slows and unemployment rises.

"Results were good despite a challenging economic environment and a negative calendar effect," CFO Rafael Matute said in a conference call.

Matute said same-store sales in the quarter grew 1%, even though February had one fewer day than it did last year, and despite the fact that the Easter holiday was in April, rather than in March.

Walmex, as Mexico's largest retailer is known, also opened 14 new stores in the first quarter to reach 1,219 units nationwide, including Wal-Mart Supercenters, Sam's Clubs, Superama markets and Suburbia clothing stores.

Customer traffic grew by 10%, compared with last year, the company said.

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