A Grand Reopening For Wal Mart

After a rude earnings surprise, the chain has decisively put its house in order

It was a quarter that scared a giant. When Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, announced two years ago that earnings for the period ended Jan. 31, 1996, would break a string of 99 quarterly increases, the company predictably fell from grace. Its stock, already sliding for three years, dropped like a rock. And many Wall Street analysts questioned whether the great Wal-Mart growth story was finally sputtering to an end.

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