(Nov. 18) BENTONVILLE, Ark. — At a time when other retail grocery chains are adjusting earnings forecasts downward, Bentonville-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. was reporting record third-quarter earnings.

The world’s largest retailer said its 23% increase in earnings for the quarter was partially a result of what its officials called a “truly impressive quarter” from its international operations, including Asda in the United Kingdom and Walmex in Mexico.

Wal-Mart said its net income rose to $1.82 billion in the third quarter of 2002, from $1.48 billion a year earlier, with per-share earnings rising to 41 cents from 33 cents.

Wal-Mart added $6 billion in sales, reaching a total of $58.7 billion for the quarter.

The core Wal-Mart chain increased same-store sales 4.2%, with operating profits up 15%. But Sam’s Club, the warehouse club division, hit a slump, with same-store sales flat and operating profits slightly down.