The company also cited better customer service and internal cost savings for the improvement.
Wal-Mart earned $3.02 billion, or 76 cents per share, in the three months ended April 30, up from $2.83 billion, or 68 cents per share, a year earlier.
Analysts polled by Thomson Financial had projected earnings of 75 cents per share. The estimates typically exclude one-time items.
The company had overall revenue of $95.30 billion, up 10.3 percent from $86.41 billion in the prior year. Net sales excluding membership fees rose to $94.1 billion from $85.4 billion a year ago.
Analysts projected revenue of $93.47 billion for the quarter.
Without fuel, same-store sales for the first quarter were up 2.9 percent at Wal-Mart's domestic properties, rising 2.7 percent in the Wal-Mart Stores division and 3.6 percent at Sam's Clubs.
Wal-Mart Chief Financial Officer Tom Schoewe said for the second quarter the company expects sales in stores open at least a year to be between flat and up 2 percent. He said the company expects to earn between 78 cents per share and 81 cents per share.
He said the company has not yet been able to gauge how much of an impact the federal tax rebate checks will have on shoppers.
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