BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Wal-Mart Stores here yesterday said it will reduce its capital-expenditure forecast for the current fiscal year to a range of $13 billion to $14 billion, down from the $13.5 billion to $15.2 billion that the retailer projected last October. The company announced the reduction at the William Blair & Co. Annual Growth Stock Conference in Chicago yesterday. At the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting earlier this month, Wal-Mart had projected that cap-ex was running toward the low end of its previous projections, which in turn represented a cutback from the preceding year. The reduction is a result of the slowdown in store expansion in the U.S., and it is boosting the company’s free cash flow, Thomas Schoewe, Wal-Mart’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, said at the conference yesterday. “We’ll open up fewer stores [this year] than we did last year, and next year it will be fewer yet again,” he said, although he noted that the company had opened 100 supercenters so far this year as the company completes stores that had already been in the pipeline.
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