Wal-Mart — the Financial and Accounting Practices of the World’s Largest Retailer
This paper provides an overview of the organization and financial practices of the successful discount retailer Wal-Mart, an American company with an international outreach.
Overview of the organization of Wal-Mart: its financial and accounting practices
The company’s chief executive officer
According to the investor relations section of the official Wal-Mart company website, entitled “Organizational Leadership,” Wal-Mart’s current Chief Executive Officer, or is Eduardo Castro-Wright. Wright’s current official title is that of the president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart Stores, USA. Castro-Wright was promoted to this position in September 2005, following his role of executive vice president and chief operating officer for Wal-Mart Stores, USA. (“Organizational Leadership,” 2006, Wal-Mart Official Website.) Castro-Wright’s appointment seems like a logical progression from his earlier position, although his selection may also have been due to public relations concerns, given that Wal-Mart has been criticized for acting in discriminatory ways towards women and minorities within its corporate leadership organization, despite the dominance of minority customers and workers in Wal-Mart’s sales figures and staff of lower-level employees.
Include the location of the home office
Wal-Mart is an international retailer. Its home office is based in Arkansas, the location of its founder Sam Walton’s original Bentonville variety store. (“Visitor’s Center,” 2006, Wal-Mart Official Website.)
Identify the ending date of the latest fiscal year
The latest fiscal year that the corporation provides information for is that of the first quarter of 2006. The company provides full reports on its website from the present year stretching back to the company’s first public offerings in 1970. (“Annual Report, 2006, Wal-Mart Official Website)
Describe the principal products or services that the company provides
In the case of Wal-Mart, it is almost easier to detail the types of goods and services the company does NOT provide, rather than the products it sells. It sells everything from food to electronics, to home goods and home improvement materials such as furniture and paint, to tires and pet supplies. Wal-Mart even sells vacation packages, swimming pools, online music downloads and provides an optical center for customer vision care — as well as access to an on-store pharmacy. As well as selling books and entertainment goods, Wal-Mart also provides DVD rentals. The corporate umbrella of Wal-Mart also comprises Sam’s Club, a membership-based warehouse store that sells discount goods in bulk. In short, volume and quantity are the keys to Wal-Mart’s ability to sell a diversity of products and services at the lowest prices, all of the time.
Include the main geographic area of activity
Wal-Mart has international operations spanning the expanse of over fifteen countries. The company has locations in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, South Korea and the United Kingdom. Again, it is almost more of a question where Wal-Mart’s corporate outreach does NOT reach. However, within the United States, the nation which provides the bulk of its sales, Wal-Mart is more popular in the American heartland, rather than in urban locations, because part of the store’s appeal, besides its low prices, is that consumers can stock up on all of their retailing needs, without having to drive to several places, looking for the best discounts. In cities, urban dwellers have less room to store large amounts of goods in small apartments, and have more access to smaller, independent stores that offer more boutique services and access to wider varieties of specific goods. Discount shopping is easier for a urban walker, comparing prices on a street, and also an urban bookstore might have a wider selection than Wal-Mart, as might a grocery store, but only at Wal-Mart can a customer buy a best-seller and brand name groceries at low prices at the same time. Additionally, partly because of bad press regarding its labor practices, and also because European consumers tend to buy less in bulk, at the same time, than their American counterparts, Wal-Mart’s success in Europe has been less dominant than its home country of America, although its international sales remain strong.
Identify the name of the company’s independent accountants (auditors) and explain in your own words what the accountants said about the company’s financial statements.
Ernst & Young LLP and its predecessor, Arthur Young & Company, have been Wal-Mart’s independent accountants even prior to the Company’s initial sales of public stock in 1970. According to its latest fiscal statements, the accountants stated that Wal-Mart, despite concerns about rising oil prices, still looks healthy as a corporate entity. The company’s net domestic sales for the first quarter of fiscal 2006 increased 9.5% to $70.9 billion, up from $64.8 billion in the first quarter of fiscal 2005. The company’s net income increased from13.6% to $2.5 billion, yielding investors $0.58 per share in the first quarter of fiscal 2006. The company’s total assets increased 13.1% to $122.2 billion at April 30, 2005 when compared to the April 30, 2004 figures. During the first quarter of fiscal 2006, Wal-Mart made $2.8 billion of capital expenditures. Net sales in the company’s international and Sam’s Clubs segments increased 12.4%, and when compared with the first quarter of fiscal 2005, showed an overall improvement of 18.5% and 10.5%, respectively.
The impact of rising fuel costs was felt, however, Operating, selling, general and administrative expenses (operating expenses) as a percentage of net sales were 18.6% for the first quarter of fiscal 2006, up from 18.3% in the corresponding period in fiscal 2005.
Include the most recent price of the company’s stock and its dividend per share. Be sure to provide the date for this information.
According to the company site, the latest stock price was $47.13 on the New York Stock Exchange, dated June 9, 2006 at 4:00 PM EST. (“Stock Quote,” 2006, Wal-Mart Official Website) the most recent dividend per share information was as thus: from December 16, 2005 to January 3, 2006, the dividend per share paid on average $0.1500. (Dividend History, 2006, Wal-Mart Official Website)
Annual Report.” (2006) Wal-Mart Official Website. Retrieved 10 Jun 2006 at http://walmartstores.com/Files/2006_annual_report.pdf
Dividend History.” (2006) Wal-Mart Official Website. Retrieved 10 Jun 2006 at http://www.walmartstores.com/GlobalWMStoresWeb/navigate.do?catg=453&contId=5702
Form 10-Q for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.: Quarterly Report.” (2006) Yahoo finance. Retrieved 10 Jun 2006 at http://biz.yahoo.com/e/050603/wmt10-q.html
Organizational Leadership.” (2006) Wal-Mart Official Website. Retrieved 10 Jun 2006 at http://walmartstores.com/GlobalWMStoresWeb/navigate.do?catg=540&contId=41
Stock Quote.” (2006) Wal-Mart Official Website. Retrieved 10 Jun 2006 at http://investor.walmartstores.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=112761&p=irol-irhome
Visitor’s Center.” (2006) Wal-Mart Official Website. Retrieved 10 Jun 2006 at http://www.walmartstores.com/GlobalWMStoresWeb/navigate.do?catg=7
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