HEARD ON THE STREET: Investors to Wal-Mart: Slow Construction Pace [Wall Street Journal]
Summary: Wal-Mart is on track this year to keep to its target of 8% annual square foot expansion by building 370 new stores in the U.S. But not all investors believe that this aggressive growth strategy is appropriate for the company as new locations cannibalize sales of existing stores and present high opening costs in markets where WMT currently has no presence; they would prefer to see share buybacks, dividend increases or remodeling of existing stores. If WMT announces in its analyst meetings next Monday that it will slow U.S expansion, investors are expected to reward the stock. Says Goldman Sachs' Adrianne Shapira: "If they do rein in that 8% [expansion rate], expect deafening applause from the investment community." Slowdown advocates point to McDonald's which instituted a reduced expansion plan in 2003 accompanied by increased dividends and share buybacks. The stock doubled in one year, and increased 30% since then.
Related links: WMT Last Quarter Earnings Call Transcript • WMT Finds it Hard to Expand • WMT to Benefit from Lower Oil Prices • WMT Facing Tough Times
Potentially impacted stocks and ETFs: Wal-Mart (WMT); Competitors: CostCo (COST), Target (TGT).
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