The following are prepared remarks for Brett Biggs, Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, at the 2019 Walmart Associate and Shareholders Meeting on June 7, 2019.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong becoming the first person to walk on the moon, which was one of the greatest feats of human innovation and teamwork, and it was truly a global event.
About eight years before that, U.S. President John F. Kennedy made a commitment that we would put a man on the moon and bring him back which is incredibly important if you’re the guy being sent to the moon. When President Kennedy made this commitment, many, including the team at NASA, didn’t know for sure if it was even possible. Okay, you're thinking, great story so, what does this have to do with Walmart?
Well, just months after the commitment to go to the moon another historic event was unfolding right here in Northwest Arkansas when Sam Walton and his family opened the first Walmart discount store. Mr. Sam had been working in retail for years and saw an opportunity to create a business model that could disrupt everything people knew about retail. Mr. Sam set out on a mission to help ALL people save money and live better — which was a bold goal. You see, most big, "successful" retailers had only focused on large cities.
Sam wanted everyone to have the same benefit of low prices no matter where they lived.
But, like the moon commitment, some thought his ideas wouldn’t work. One word for that: wrong!
Store number 1 in Rogers, Arkansas that you see here did about $1 million dollars in sales the first year. Not bad. Check out this number: $514 billion. That’s our revenue this past year! We might be a big company some day.
Let me tell you some more amazing things about your company. We have operations in 38 countries including our sourcing offices. Last year, we generated just under $28 billion in operating cash flow. Over the past three years combined, that number is about $88 billion.
We have one of the highest credit ratings in the world because of our size and strength. We returned $13.5 billion to Shareholders last year and we recently increased our dividend for the 46th straight year.
Our expenses as a percent of sales decreased last year. Thank you for helping us control our costs. Inventory as a percent of sales decreased. You’ve done a great job in managing inventory levels while keeping in-stock levels high for our customers.
Here's a really amazing fact: Over the last three years, we’ve grown sales by about $32 billion. That’s the equivalent of adding a Fortune 100 company, a company with the sales volume of Coca-Cola. Our company is so strong!
These results are only possible because of our amazing associates all over the world. Is anyone here from Walmart U.S.? Walmart U.S. comp sales grew 3.6 percent last year – the highest annual growth rate in 10 years.
How about U.S. eCommerce? Sales grew 40 percent last year, nearly doubling the size of that business over the past two years.
Sam’s Club? Last year, Sam’s Club comp sales, excluding fuel and tobacco, increased 5.7 percent.
And I know there are a few people here from our international markets. 8 of 10 markets posted positive comp sales last year. And we acquired a majority stake in Flipkart in India, which is a very important part of our long-term strategy.
At Walmart, those big numbers are simply a result of thousands and thousands of daily actions by individual associates and teams. Let me give you a couple of examples. Henry Akwamensah and our International Supply Chain team developed a new app called “Plan your Day” to help warehouse associates be more efficient.
This app is in use in Central America and has driven a 20 percent efficiency in service to the stores. And the really cool thing is that the app is now being deployed across the Walmart International Supply Chain. Henry, let us recognize you. Great work!
And you knew we would have a sales example, right? Sales drive everything. Ryan Joash is a fresh team associate at Store 4390 in Enid, Oklahoma. He’s driven a 380% sales increase in chuck roast… not the flashiest product to try to grow sales… but the type of product that is so important to our customers. He saw an opportunity to drive sales with this item, so he ordered more inventory and started promoting it to customers.
He won over a small business, Sandy’s Tacos, which is now ordering the roasts weekly to supply their restaurant. Now, they are also buying several thousand dollars of produce and other items each month!
That’s how you take a common item and drive sales with creativity and passion. Ryan is here with us. Can you stand? Way to go, Ryan!
Sam Walton once summed up Walmart like this: “Ordinary people joined together to accomplish extraordinary things.” Those stories along with the incredible numbers we’ve shared this morning are exactly what Mr. Sam was talking about.
Let’s finish up with one more number: This is our stock price for the last three years on the day of the Shareholders meeting: 3 years ago: $70.87. Two years ago: $79.62. One year ago: $82.99.
I like the trend. But what I really like is our stock price as of yesterday! $105.11.
That means that over the past three years the value of our company has grown by about $90 billion. Our investors are noticing what we’re doing, and they see a bright future. And it's because of you! Your curiosity. Your ideas. Your teamwork. Your leadership. Your desire to win… every day! You are extraordinary people doing extraordinary things!
I've been with this great company for 19 years and I've never been more excited about what we can do together in the future. We may not be sending people to the moon, but we’re making a massive difference in the lives of the 275 million customers we serve each week around the globe. Thank you for all that you do in making this one of the greatest companies in the world!