Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, today (17 August) raised its full-year profit target despite seeing US sales fall again during its second quarter.

The company said it sees its annual earnings per share now reaching US$3.95-4.05, up from an earlier forecast of $3.90-4.00.

CFO Tom Schoewe said Wal-Mart had changed its earnings target due to “the strength of our underlying operating performance” despite the “challenges” facing the retailer’s US business in the short term.

“In the second quarter, we delivered on our promise to leverage expenses, and this commitment remains a strategic priority throughout the company. We plan to continue leveraging expenses,” Schoewe said.

Wal-Mart’s earnings per share for the quarter to 31 July stood at $0.97, up from $0.89 a year earlier. Net income from continuing operations climbed 3.6% to $3.6bn. Operating income increased 4.4% to $6.19bn.

The retailer’s second-quarter net sales grew 2.8% to $103.01bn, on the back of an 11% rise in sales outside the US to $26bn.

In the US, Wal-Mart’s net sales were flat at $64.65bn, although comparable-store sales, a key metric, dropped 1.8% in the second quarter. In the first quarter of Wal-Mart’s current fiscal year, US comparable-store sales were down 1.4%.

First-half net income from continuing operations reached $6.9bn, up 6.6%. Operating income climbed 7.4% to $11.93bn. Net sales rose 4.4% to $202.11bn.

Wal-Mart’s comparable-store sales in the US fell 1.6% during the first half of its fiscal year.

Click here for the full second-quarter and first-half statement from Wal-Mart; check back later for further insight from the retailer’s results.