(May 19) A more efficient Wal-Mart appears to be a more profitable Wal-Mart, if the latest quarterly statement is any indication.

Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said May 16 that its first-quarter profit rose 6.3% over the same period in 2005, thanks to cost-cutting, and a customer outreach program.

The company declined to comment on the role its produce sales had in the performance. All Bruce Peterson, Wal-Mart’s senior vice president and general merchandise manager of perishables, would say is produce sales, as a share of total grocery receipts, mirror the national chain-store average of 10% to 12%.

Wal-Mart reported earnings of $2.62 billion, or 63 cents a share, for the quarter that ended April 30. A year earlier, company earnings for the quarter were $2.5 billion, or 58 cents per share.

Quarterly sales were $80.5 billion, up from $71.7 billion a year earlier. Same-store sales — sales at stores open at least one year — were up 3.8%.

Wal-Mart shares closed at $47.90 May 16 on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock had a 52-week range of $42.31-50.87.