Wal-Mart Falls as Detwiler Sees Signs of Slowing Sales

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. fell the most in two months after an analyst at Detwiler said grocery and apparel sales might be weak.

The shares dropped 1.9 percent to $77.02 at 12:10 p.m. in New York and earlier slid as much as 2.4 percent for the biggest intraday decline since Feb. 15. Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart had gained 15 percent this year through yesterday, compared with an 8.8 percent increase for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

Analysts at Detwiler Fenton Group said today in a note that they are seeing signs of deteriorating sales of perishable goods at stores, suggesting Wal-Mart’s grocery business may be weakening. The retailer also may have too much outerwear inventory on hand, according to the firm, which has offices in New York and Boston.

Wal-Mart in February forecast first-quarter profit that trailed analysts’ estimates as an increase in payroll taxes and delayed refunds curtailed spending by its lower-income customers.