Wal-Mart has today (13 August) posted better-than-expected second-quarter earnings, which came in at the high end of its guidance range.

The world’s largest retailer said that earnings per share totalled US$0.88, up from $0.86 posted during the comparable period of last year.

Earnings were negatively impacted by currency exchange, which reduced EPS by around $0.04 per share.

Net sales slid 1.4% to $100.08bn from $101.55bn. However, stripping out currency exchange, sales would have increased 2.7% in the quarter, to around $104.28bn, the US retail giant emphasised.

Income from continuing operations of $3.45bn was slightly up on last year’s $3.4bn.

The company has benefited from the global economic downturn, with shoppers increasingly flocking to its discount formats.

Speaking following the results release, CEO Mike Duke emphasised that Wal-Mart is working to convert cutomers that it is gaining as a result of the economic downturn into loyal shoppers.

“The improvements in our stores are attracting new customers and keeping the loyalty of the millions who shop with us. We are confident about Walmart’s long-term future and ability to build on its leadership position,” Duke said.

Click here for the full press release, or check back later for just-food’s in-depth look at Wal-Mart’s first quarter.