Inventories climbed 0.1 percent to $1.64 trillion, while sales climbed 1.2 percent to $1.28 trillion.
The monthly figure adding up manufacturing, retail and wholesale inventories came in lower than the consensus forecast, which predicted inventory growth of 0.4 percent.
Inventories were up 4.9 percent above February 2012.
Sales on the wholesale level were up 3.7 percent from a year earlier.
The total business inventories to sales ratio, was 1.28, based on seasonally adjusted data, the Census Bureau said. A year ago, the ratio was 2.26.
The ratio indicates how long it will take to sell existing inventory at current prices. As the ratio rises, it indicates manufacturers may have too much inventory on hand and may adjust by slowing production.