FAYETTEVILLE, Ark., June 6, 2008 -- In a speech to investors and associates at the 2008 Wal-Mart Annual Shareholder Meeting, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. President and CEO Lee Scott said that the changes made by management during the transformation of the past three years, as well as a deeper understanding of the company's mission of saving people money so they can live better, are driving results for the business and helping it effectively take on the toughest issues facing customers around the world.
"'Saving Money' has always been a part of who we are. 'Living Better' is now a real part of our company too," said Scott in a prepared text of his remarks. "That connection, and our understanding of its potential, is making the difference between the great company we have always been and the even better Wal-Mart we are today."
Scott also talked about Wal-Mart being better positioned than any other retailer to succeed both in today's current economic climate and the retail environment taking shape for the future. He cited strengths such as the company's global footprint, its leadership in sustainability, and the appeal of its price leadership strategy among aging populations.
"Wal-Mart is uniquely positioned to succeed not just in this economy, but in these times. And among retailers, we are the best positioned to lead in the world of tomorrow," Scott told the audience.
Scott touted the performance of Wal-Mart's core business units and said that the Wal-Mart model can succeed everywhere the retailer operates, in markets as different from each other as Canada, Argentina and China.
"When it comes to our underlying business, our performance has been outstanding." Scott continued, "Our capital efficiency model is working. We are continuing to focus on delivering strong free cash flow. We also delivered record returns to our shareholders last year through more than $11 billion in share repurchases and dividends. Investors like what they see in our underlying business."
Scott also talked about the company's efforts to help solve some of the toughest challenges facing its customers, such as rising energy prices and high out-of-pocket health care costs. He said that American voters who will be the focus of the upcoming elections are Wal-Mart shoppers who are concerned about these very issues.
"We see it in our stores every day -- working men and women living paycheck to paycheck and making more and more difficult decisions," Scott said. "We serve millions of customers like this every week in the U.S. We understand them."
The company's chief executive added: "Regardless of who wins the election in November -- and what party they are from -- we stand ready to work with the new President and the next Congress. We believe we can be an effective partner, and leaders who want to get things done will seek Wal-Mart as a partner."
In his conclusion, Scott assured the audience that Wal-Mart would continue to succeed and lead in the future. He said the company's associates would make sure the company stays relevant in a changing world while staying true to its core.
"We have a culture, a mission and core values that are timeless and universal. But we have to constantly look at how we apply those things to the changing world around us." Scott continued, "The challenge ahead is that we must continue to challenge ourselves. I am confident that your Wal-Mart will continue to transform. And I am confident we will continue to succeed."
About Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT)
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. operates Wal-Mart discount stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets and Sam's Club locations in the United States. The company operates in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom. Wal-Mart serves more than 176 million customers weekly in 14 markets. The company's securities are listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol WMT. For more information: http://www.walmartfacts.com.
SOURCE Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.