Arkansas Business: Stocks up, healthcare leads slight gains

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Arkansas Business) -- Health-care companies led major indexes to slight gains amid light trading volume.

With many who work in the markets on vacation, trading volume on the New York Stock Exchange was just 2.6 billion shares yesterday -- an average day this year is nearly 1 billion higher.

Still, there was room for news. Shares of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway crossed another milestone. Those shares now trading above $200,000 a share for the first time.

Shares & quarterly earnings for Walmart Inc.

Shares of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of Bentonville ending up less than half a percent to $74.39 per share, the same day the retailer posted disappointing quarterly earnings that once again show sluggish same-store sales and a decline in customer traffic at its U.S. stores.

Wal-Mart said net income was $4.09 billion, $1.26 per share, up slightly from $4.07 billion, or $1.24 per share, in the same quarter a year ago. Total revenue rose about 3 percent to $119.34 billion.

But sales were flat at Wal-Mart's U.S. stores and at Sam's Club. And the number of customers at its U.S. discount stores fell for the seventh quarter in a row.

As a result, Wal-Mart cut its profit forecast for the full year.

All this, as the retailer and its new CEO, Doug McMillon, face a host of challenges: a slow economy that's tough on its core shoppers -- aggressive competition, dollar stores and grocery stores and the increasing reliance by shoppers on mobile shopping and e-commerce, areas where Wal-Mart is still investing.

Looking to today, we're expecting to get second-quarter earnings from another Arkansas retailer, Dillard's Inc. of Little Rock.

Those numbers should come in before market open.

Delta Plastics releasing an irrigation plan

Delta Plastics of Arkansas, which makes tubing for agricultural irrigation, revealing a plan it hopes will reduce irrigation water use in the Mississippi Delta region by 2020.

The company yesterday announcing its H20 Initiative, aiming to cut irrigation water use by 20 percent in the next six years.

It hopes to accomplish this by making its irrigation management software, Pipe Planner, available to farmers for free.

Pipe Planner helps farmers make more efficient use of water and irrigation materials.


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