BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Maybe all that Wal-Mart Stores here needed was a little economic recession. Through the first three months of 2008, the company saw its stock climb at a double-digit rate, to close at $52.68 on March 31. That 11.3% gain outpaced all other major food retailers and has been followed by continuing gains through the first weeks of April. Analysts said the company has fixed some of the merchandising problems that had slowed growth in recent years, particularly in nonfood ...

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