Wal-Mart blamed a slower than expected recovery in the US economy for a more cautious take on its full-year earnings potential. Profits in 2002 would be at the lower end of expectations, said chief executive Lee Scott on a conference call following the company's first quarter results. "We are experiencing a stronger economy than last year, but improvement is slower than we would like to see." Like-for-like sales were up 8.1% in the quarter to April 30 with an 8.6% rise at Wal-Mart stores and a 5.7% rise at Sam's Club outlets. Net profit rose 19.7% to $1.65bn on sales up 14.4% to $54.96bn. l The George clothing range has now been introduced into 42 German stores. {{NEWS }}