Wal-Mart in a league of its own
The leading retailer remains a top defensive stock for a weak economy.
Wal-Mart (WMT), which is celebrating its 50th year in business, hardly needs an introduction. This retailer has it all. It has dominated the discount market for many years and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
In keeping with my advice to buy stocks in companies that can continue to generate profits in a weak economy, I am adding the shares to our Recommended List.
Recently, CEO Mike Duke said, "Wal-Mart is the best-positioned global retailer in the world today." It may sound boastful, but he's right. No one else is in the same league.
Why do people flock there? Because it's cheap, of course. Wal-Mart consistently manages to undersell everyone else.
The company employs more than two million "associates" world-wide and claims to serve more than 200 million customers a week.
And while Wal-Mart may represent the values of middle America, it has become an international retailer with 10,130 stores under 69 different banners in 27 countries.
In mid-May, the company reported results for its 2013 fiscal first quarter (to April 30). Earnings from continuing operations came in at $1.09 per share. That was up from $0.96 the year before and ahead of the company guidance of between $1.01 and $1.06 per share.
U.S. comparable stores sales increased by 2.6% while sales at its Sam's Club stores were up 5.3%, not including fuel. Those are healthy increases for a well-established company in a weak economy.
Consolidated net sales were $112.3 billion, an increase of 8.6% from last year. Wal-Mart ended the first quarter with free cash flow of $3.1 billion and had cash in the bank of $8.1 billion.
Return on investment (ROI) for the trailing 12-month period was an impressive 18.1%. From a financial perspective, this is a very sound company.
The share price has moved higher in recent months, bucking the trend in the U.S. market. However, at about 14 times anticipated fiscal 2013 earnings, it does not appear to be out of line.
In March, the company announced a 9% dividend increase, bringing the annualized payout to $1.59 a share. Yielding 2.4%, Wal'Mart is a 'Buy' for defensive investors.
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I personally think Sam Walton would be disgusted by how wal-mart is acting today. I remember when he was alive, you could go into wal-mart, get American made products, pay a low price for them, and not even have to wait in line. Now it's cheap chinese products, nasty produce, and waiting 20 minutes for a cashier. I'm so thankful I live in an area where there's enough options that I don't have to shop there.
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