S. Robson Walton - Chairman, Member of Global Compensation Committee and Member of Executive Committee
Charles M. Holley - Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President
Jeffrey J. Gearhart - Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary
Rosalind Gates Brewer - Executive Vice President, Chief Executive Officer of Sam's Club Segment and President of Sam's Club Segment
William S. Simon - Executive Vice President, Chief Executive Officer of Walmart U S and President of Walmart U S
C. Douglas McMillon - Executive Vice President, Chief Executive Officer of Walmart International and President of Walmart International
Michael Terry Duke - Chief Executive Officer, President, Director, Chairman of Global Compensation Committee and Chairman of Executive Committee
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (WMT) 2012 Shareholders Meeting June 1, 2012 8:00 AM ET
Ladies and gentlemen, here to our national anthem, please welcome from Store #3597 in Los Lunas, New Mexico, Brian Zeals [ph].
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 2012 Wal-Mart Shareholders Webcast.
S. Robson Walton
Welcome. Welcome to the 2012 Wal-Mart Shareholders Meeting, and happy 50th anniversary, Wal-Mart . I'm Rob Walton, and isn't this a fantastic set? This of course -- this is the storefront from Dad's first store in Bentonville, which is now the Visitor's Center a long time ago. And stepping through those doors brings back lots of memories of the early days, spending time in this $0.05 and $0.10 stores in Bentonville with my brothers and my sister. It was a really special time and place.
It was where Dad experimented with his own blend of new ideas and timeless values that would change retail forever. It's where we cut our teeth. We didn't know it then, but it became the foundation for everything that's followed.
Jim and Alice, come on up here. It brings back memories. If you would join me on stage, please? My brother Jim; sister, Alice.
So what do you think, pretty cool huh? Brings back some memories. You know what I remember best about this thing was that this was early days now in retail, and everything was direct to the store. We've took the freight through the front door, and if the stock room was upstairs -- so as oldest son, I'm the one that got carried the freight for many, many years, through the floor, too many boxes usually, up the stairs, past the office, which was a desk, halfway up the stairs and into the stockroom, which had no air conditioning, by the way. So we remember those really well. Also, when you're in the Visitor's Center, you'll see some green and red tile, 9-inch tile. It kind of stands out because it's small. And we spent many, many nights cleaning that tile, and it's still there after all those years, so we must have done a good job, Jim. And I graduated from boxes and tiles to something, I'm not sure what.
James Carr Walton
Being the oldest son, Rob got promoted. And so he trained John and I, our brother John, on how to take care of the stockroom upstairs. And where Rob really trained us was on that floor. And I'd like to say some of it -- some of it is still there. No doubt, it was cared for very well right at the beginning, Rob. But Rob, he had us about once ever 3 months, something like that, we had to strip the wax off that floor and then we had to mop it. And then we had to put wax down, and then we buffed it. And when we buffed it, we got the Rob Walton shine. And I don't know, Doug, if that's a standard today or not. But that's something John and I worked really hard on.
S. Robson Walton
Alice, I see something back here about popcorn. Where is that popcorn? The jumbo popcorn.
Alice Louise Walton
Well, dad didn't hesitate to teach the youngest and only daughter how to work either. My job was dusting China dolls and horses and wrapping Christmas presents. And dad even paid me in China horses, usually chipped, probably from my dusting, but my favorite job, $0.10 jumbo popcorn. We had bags this big, and dad figured out that the movie theater down the street on Saturday sold little bitty bags of popcorn for $0.10. So we sat our popcorn machine right outside the front of the store and happily gave it to all the movie customers 3x as much popcorn.
S. Robson Walton
Every Day Low Prices didn't just start yesterday, did it?
Alice Louise Walton
No, they didn't.
James Carr Walton
I remember the associates in the store, and there was Wanda and Ruby and Ines [ph], and of course, the manager Bob. And they taught us a lot. I mean they spent time with us, they probably kept us out a lot of trouble with our dad. But I couldn't -- I was thinking last night, Rob, I remember one time I went, up I came home or came to the store after school and went upstairs, Ines asked me to get a box of merchandise so I went up, got it, came down. And I said, "Ines, what do you want me to do with this stuff?" And I mean she looked me right in the eye and she said, "Jim, that's merchandise, that's not stuff." I said, "Yes, ma'am."
Alice Louise Walton
Dad was always a merchant. We sold colored baby chicks, turtles. One year, we even sold alligators.
James Carr Walton
That's right. Little ones, little ones.
Alice Louise Walton
Little ones, little ones. But dad only sold alligators 1 year because one of our customers came up after that summer and said, "Sam, we saw an alligator swimming in Sugar Creek." So that was the end of the alligators.
James Carr Walton
Always listen to the customer. Customer comes first. The -- I think I remember dad loved merchandise. I mean I think everybody knows that. But he thought about merchandise, all the time. And he got excited about new merchandise. I can remember when flip-flops, flip flops or thongs first came out in the '50s, and he bought a whole bunch of them. But he sold every one of them. He lowered the price, and everybody in town had those flip-flops. And then the hula hoop came along. And so dad, he thought he paid too much for the first shipment. They sold out real quick, so he knew it was a good item. So he bought some plastic pipe, rolls of plastic pipe, and Alice and I were the test. So we -- he had us cut this plastic pipe into pieces and glue it together. So we made our own hula hoops, Every Day Low Cost.
S. Robson Walton
Jim and Alice, thank you, all. We could go on like this for a long time, but we got some folks here that came for a meeting, and I think we need to get started. Thank you.
So this $0.05 and $0.10 store was a family business. Dad and mother put it in all of our names, actually, in 1952 when they opened their second store. And this is still a family business. The family's just grown a little bit.
So let me introduce some of our Walton and Robson family members, who are here. I'll just ask you to stand. Jim and Alice, you've met. My wife, Melani and the whole Walton family. And Stan, Ann, all of you all, come on up, stand up. Got lots of them here. Might be a few more that coming in a little later. But -- and Aunt Audy is not here yet, is she, but she's coming? All right, you let me know when she's here because -- so Aunt Audy will be here, and I want you, all, to welcome her. She's not missed a meeting hardly in all these 43 years we've been a public company, and she's a very special lady. Uncle Bud's wife. But anyway, we'll have her later.
Can't tell you how much it means to me and the family to be here with you on this 50th anniversary of Wal-Mart. Wasn't that recording of Dad that we played earlier just great?
I have to tell you what really amazes me after 20 years later is just how right he was then. That was an amazing day. We did go on in fact to seize the opportunity and become a retailing force the world had never seen before. Back then, Sam's Club, are you here? Oh, yes. All right, all right. That's good. I think they've gotten worse, Roz. Sam's Club was a $6 billion business. And today, it's a $50 billion business. Back then, Wal-Mart had just become a $32 billion business and become the largest retailer in the United States. Today, it's a -- we are, together, a $440 billion global business, serving 200 million customers a week in 27 countries.
In fact, based on sales, this company has grown more than 11x over these last 2 decades. Dad and mother, and mother was his partner in everything, would be really proud of what you have accomplished. But they didn't measure the company's success in setting new financial records or even being the biggest. They ultimately measured it by the lives we improved. What made Wal-Mart special was their absolute belief in the potential of people. It's like what dad said to the managers 20 years ago, "Each of us can be much, much more than we ever dreamed we could be." And he went on to tell us what it would take: integrity, dedication and having someone, who cared enough about you to make you better.
Dad always had a kind of restless dissatisfaction with the state of things, change was just a constant. No matter how good we already were, he believed there ought to be an even better way. He wanted us to push ourselves beyond what we'd already achieved. That's why he listened intently to associates to get their ideas for doing things even better for our customers. That's why I encourage managers to really care about their people and invest in their development. He expected us to hold ourselves to higher standards, and it started with integrity. When we act with integrity, associates, suppliers and customers can trust us to deal honestly and openly with them.
Dad understood there could be no trust without transparency. This is the foundation Sam built, and it set a tone and an expectation for everything we do. If he were here today, he'd urge us to improve and find more ways to raise the quality of products while making them even more affordable. He challenged us to win in e-commerce and figure out what they want in this anytime, anywhere world we live in today. He'd expect us to move even faster in reaching our sustainability goals and improving more lives all along our supply chain. He would ask us to engage in critical self examination and to always have the humility to change what needs changing. Most of all, he'd want us to believe there's no limit to how much farther we can go. We have the best talent in global retail today. We have a strong management team, and no one loves or embodies this culture more than Mike Duke himself. Mike here in front. Mike, thank you for your leadership.
Let's prove my dad right once again. Let's do things no other company has done before as we head into our next 50 years. Dad was in his element, and the crowd was all fired up at his last annual meeting. At one point, this was 1991, David Glass announced how much Wal-Mart shares had increased since 1976. But dad quickly made sure to remind everyone how much better we could do. He interrupted David and shouted to the audience, "And it's only just begun, do you believe it? Let me hear you say it." And in true Wal-Mart fashion, the entire arena started cheering, "It's only just begun." Little did we know, 50 years ago, when we opened the first store in Rogers, we had only just begun. And 20 years ago, when dad handed over Wal-Mart to the next generation of leaders, we had only just begun. And today, as we stand on the edge of a new era in retail, we've still only just begun to help people save money and live better. Do you believe it? Do you agree?
I'm going to go off script here a little bit. I was in South Africa and Botswana last week, this last week. So I have to welcome my -- our associates from Massmart all across this continent of Africa. It's wonderful to have you here.
There's one other thing that dad taught us, too, and that was not to take ourselves too seriously and have a little fun. He used to do hokey stuff. I still remember he lost a bet to David Glass one time about how much profit -- percentage profit the company could make, and he had to do a hula on Wall Street, right on Wall Street, and that was hokey. But anyway, we survived.
Oh my gosh. I don't know. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome, Justin Timberlake. Good morning. Take it away.
Thank you. Thank you, Rob. Good morning, Wal-Mart . I thought this was -- but now, it's awkward. My mind back there, I was like, Sam did it. I'll just breeze out in the hula skirt. And now it's awkward. It does feel breezy though. Thank you. That's makes me feel better. Yes, thank you. I'll -- I can't talk to you like this, I'm going to -- there we go.
How are we doing this morning? Ready to get the party started this morning? Wow, 7:20. 7:20? All right. That's how we roll at Wal-Mart, okay, we'll see how it works. I got to work on my schedule a little bit. I'm very excited to be here. Thank you so much for having me. This is a very colorful crowd. I look around, I see the whole world, I see the whole world right here in this building. I came all the way down.
I love it. I'm from Memphis, so this -- I'm serious when I say I love it. And we're here to help celebrate 50 amazing years. I still can't believe how many of you traveled so far to be here, for instance, Latin America. Latin America, where we at? Oh no, you're Latin, that doesn't sound Latin. Latin America, where we at? There you go. What about our friends from Asia? Asia? Oh, I see you. I see you. We've got the U.K. and Canada. Whoa, whoa, whoa, nice. That is wow. Making me rethink the whole tea versus coffee thing. That is -- somebody's coffee was spiked because I like it, I liked it. Yes, all right, well, thank you for your honesty.
And I'm very, very, very excited, the associates from Africa, Botswana, Ghana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Swaziland, Zambia. I feel like that was a football thing.
Okay, all right. We appreciate that, yes. I'm sure there was a squiggly somewhere in there. Wow, we're very excited to have you here. And of course, we can't forget our gracious host from the United States. Where we at [indiscernible]? All right, all right, all right. Yes, yes, all right. I love it. I love it. Strike that, I'm sticking with coffee. I'm sticking with coffee.
Now you know when I was contacted to host the 50th anniversary shareholders meeting, I was excited. So as a responsible host, I began to do some research on Wal-Mart, tons, tons, hours, hours, research. Basically, I googled Wal-Mart. Apparently, they have this thing called, Google now. And I read through what was an ocean of articles and documents about the history of Wal-Mart. And through all of it, I uncovered a theme, and it's probably why I chose to come out in the hula skirt. It was Sam Walton. At the heart of every milestone, every new store, supercenter or a Sam's Club. All right. Sam's Club members have been located. Wow, serious benefits. All of it, all of it built on a foundation pure and simple, save people money, help them better their lives. And here we are today, 50 years since first embracing this idea, celebrating his vision.
But with all the history and growth, I stopped for a moment, turned my computer off, got curious, turned it back on. Started googling myself, don't ever do that, by the way. People say some really terrible things. No, I'm just joking. What I thought about the future, if Wal-Mart has come this far in 50 years, what will the next 50 look like? So much to look forward to, am I right?
Maybe it's better to explain like this. Ladies and gentlemen, direct from New York, the star of WICKED and currently appearing in Million Dollar Quartet, Broadway's own, Victoria Matlock.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Wal-Mart Chief Financial Officer, Charles Holley.
Charles M. Holley
Good morning. Good morning. You know, as a CFO, I love that video. We certainly accomplished a lot in 50 years, but there's something that we've accomplished very recently. When we were here just a year ago, our stock price was $53.66. But let me show you where we are today. Wow. How about that? How about that? That is definitely worth cheering for. Okay, I couldn't resist talking about the great share price. And I also want to tell you another story.
It's an amazing story, especially if you like numbers like I do. It's a story of Wal-Mart and $1 billion. As Rob said, we started in 1962 in 1 store, and it took us almost 18 years to have our first $1 billion year, but we did it. And by the end of the 1970s, we had had $1 billion in sales in each year. And by the end of the 1980s, we had $1 billion in sales each month. And by the end of the 1990s, we had $1 billion in sales each week. You're getting the trend here? Yes, I think you are. By the end of 2000s, we had reached more than $1 billion in one day. That is an incredible story.
So where am I going with all this? Well, 2 things stand out to me about this growth: the first is consistency, and the second is how we achieved it. Let me show you what consistency looks like. Take a look at 3 of our key operating metrics: sales, operating income and earnings per share. They are all growing every single year.
And let me tell you just how exceptional this consistency is. Back in 2008, a lot of companies struggled through the financial and economic crisis. Many companies are still struggling, but not your company. Wal-Mart is the only major publicly traded retailer in the world to grow all 3 of these metrics every year for each of the past 20 years.
Now think what this consistency means for our associates. We have provided millions of opportunities through jobs and career advancement around the world. And think about what this consistency means for our customers. Over the past 50 years, we have sold over $5 trillion of merchandise at Every Day Low Prices. Have you ever seen that many zeros before? They don't even fit on the screen.
Now the second thing that stands out to me is how we achieved this consistency. It all started with Sam Walton's vision on the square at downtown Bentonville, Arkansas. So how did we do it? We did it by always focusing on our customers and making sure that we kept adapting and changing, so we can always give our customers what they wanted and needed. Discount stores were our foundation, but we kept innovating, whether it's was Sam's Club -- thank you, Sam's. Or whether it was supercenters or international markets, small formats, and now, e-commerce. And today, to stay relevant for our customers, we must continue changing and innovating. Grocery staying out in the front for our customers. That has helped sustain this consistency in our results.
So that brings us to today where we celebrate our 50 years. Now we can all celebrate that we are as financially strong as we have ever
been, and we continue to focus on our 3 financial priorities: growth, leveraging operating expenses, which is just another way of saying we want to grow our expenses slower than sales and returns.
Let's take a look at growth. In fiscal 2011, now that was 2 years ago, we grew sales by $14 billion, and that was pretty good in tough economic times. So how did we do on our last financial year? This is going to be dangerous. Anybody from Sam's Club here? I thought so. Now Sam's grew sales by over $4 billion. Sam's has had great momentum and very strong comp store sales and had an excellent first quarter this year. Thank you, Sam's Club.
Is there anybody from Wal-Mart U.S. in the house? Oh, I thought so. You grew sales by nearly $4 billion, and we know that's just the beginning. You added back assortment that our customers asked for, and you reestablished your price leadership. And the customers are responding. You had a great first quarter, and I know you're going to have a great year. You feel the momentum, Wal-Mart U.S.? Yes, yes.
Okay. Is there anybody from maybe our International segment here? Oh, yes. Your sales grew by nearly $17 billion. That is some incredible growth. You're doing a great job of establishing Every Day Low Prices in all of our markets, and we know it's working. All you have to do is look at those first quarter results. Thank you, International.
Now I know I heard e-commerce. Where are you here today? All right. Let's all recognize e-commerce, it's a smaller group today. But you know what? You may not be large now, but you're growing quickly. You're making it so that customers can engage with us at all times any way they choose. You represent an increasingly important part of our growth story. Thank you, associates from our e-commerce businesses.
So all of this adds up to about $25 billion in sales growth last year. But let me break this $25 billion down another way. It's an impressive number when you consider that it represents nearly 40% of the total sales growth of the top 10 global public retailers. That is another example of just how strong your company is. So what goes along with that great growth? Strong returns. I know many of you in the room own shares of stock in our company.
Let me share with you what we told the investment community last year. We said that we would grow earnings per share between $4.35 and $4.50, and guess what, our company outperformed. Last year, our earnings per share were up by 8.6% from the prior year and reached $4.54. Now for the upcoming year, we're going to continue to grow. As you remember, back in February, we said that we would expect that our earnings per share to grow again in range between $4.72 and $4.92. Now I know we have a lot of work to do this year, but we're -- but after our first quarter, we are off to a great start. This is one more example of just how strong and consistent our results continue to be.
Now these strong earnings translate into strong cash flow. Last year, we had over $10 billion in free cash flow, and it gives our company incredible strength and flexibility. This is the cash we generate from operating our stores minus the cash we spend on capital expenditures, like buildings and new stores and trucks. So what does free cash flow mean for our shareholders? Well, it's what we give, what we use to give back to you. We gave back $5 billion of dividends last year and $6.3 billion in the form of share repurchases. That's a total of $11 billion. In fact, over the lifetime of the company, we have given back over $100 billion in the form of dividends and share repurchases.
All right. I'm still under the numbers, but I'm going to have a little fun. These numbers are going to make you go wow. Now the way my math works is $1,650 equals $18 million. What are you laughing about? Okay. So I know you're all shaking your heads and wondering, what school I went to and what sort of math I learned. Let me explain. If you were one of our original investors in 1970, and you bought 100 shares of Wal-Mart stock, it would've cost you $1,650. Today, that original investment would be worth $13 million. And oh yes, let's not forget, we've been also paying dividends. If you had reinvested those dividends, that would have been $5 million more additional dollars for over $18 million in returns. So that's how my math works. $1,650 equals $18 million. Now that's quite a success story. And the most exciting thing about this is that the story continues, and we're all part of it.
So now I've told you all about growth and returns, and these -- but these are driven by our basic business model, the productivity loop. It all starts with lowering costs, so we can lower prices and be a strong Every Day Low Cost and Every Day Low Price retailer. And this -- by doing this, we attract more customers and will increase sales. This is how the loop comes full circle.
Now we haven't been as good as we need to be over the last few years in lowering our expenses. But I'm happy to say, Mike Duke, we have engaged the entire company. And over the past 2 years, we have grown expenses slower than sales. We're getting back to the spirit in the video we just watched earlier about how every penny counts. Now we're currently working to achieve our leverage goal of reducing expenses by a percentage of sales by 1 percentage point in 2017. Now this means billions of dollars in savings that we'll pass on to our customers and return to our shareholders.
So the bottom line is, we must stay true to changing with our customer needs, while never losing sight of our business model. If we do this, I know the future will continue to give our customers low prices. We will continue to provide associates with great job opportunities and career advancement. And we will continue to give our shareholders strong and consistent returns.
Now as we move into the next 50 years, I think our first quarter performance is proof that we're off to a great start. And to ensure that we stay the course, I think we must continue to listen to the words of Mr. Sam, because he always said it best: to succeed, stay out in front of change.
To all of our shareholders, thank you for believing in this company. It's an honor and pleasure for all of us to serve you. And to all of our associates, thank you for making this company what it is. It's an honor to serve alongside you. So here is to 50 more years of growth, change and service to our customers. Thank you. Let's welcome back our Chairman, Rob Walton.
S. Robson Walton
Wow, those are great numbers. Thank you, Charles. We'll move now onto the business portion of the meeting. But before we do that, let's turn the lights up a little bit, please. And Audy, would you stand up? I promised I'd introduce you when -- there she is, stand up, please, this is Audy Walton. Thank you.
I can tell from the enthusiastic response here we're going to have a great meeting and a great crowd. I know our associates are excited to be a part of this great week. They've had a great week all through Northwest Arkansas. However, I must warn you we may be joined today by some folks, who want to interrupt our meeting. We're hoping that they will respect all of you, who want to hear what's going on and what we have to say and listen to the program. But just don't be surprised if we do have some interruptions, so I'm going to just give you a little heads up.
Let's go on to our business for the meeting though. As Wal-Mart Chairman, I will act as Chairman of the meeting. Jeff Gearhart, right down in front here will be our -- he is our Corporate Secretary and will act as Secretary of the meeting. Inspectors of election today are from Broadridge Financial Services. They are Peter Deskovich and Brandon Van Martin [ph] -- Vanmaanen [ph], excuse me, Brandon. Based on the report from the inspectors though, we do have a quorum with approximately 3.1 billion shares here, represented in person or by proxy, which is 92% of the shares outstanding. So we do have a quorum. We can proceed with the meeting, and I will call it to order right now.
The polls are open. This is a shareholders meeting. We're electing directors and voting on the other issues that are in the proxy. The polls will be open until about 10:15, and we'll announce preliminary results before the end of the meeting.
Only shareholders who own the shares as of the close of business on April 4 of this year and who have not already voted by proxy may vote, or those who have voted and want to change their vote can vote today. If you haven't voted and want to vote or if you want to change your vote, hold up your hand, and the ushers will bring you a proxy around. Sign it off, make your vote, and your vote will be included in the tally.
Before I introduce our Board of Directors, I want to take a moment and personally address our commitment to strong governance and the structure and practices that we have in place to serve our shareholders. We have a long-standing commitment to board independence. We separated, actually, dad and David Glass and the board separated the Chairman and CEO roles in 1988 when dad became Chairman, and David became CEO. Ten of our current board members are independent, and we have an Independent Presiding Director. We also, within today's election, will be adding an additional Independent Director. All directors have to stand for election every year, and they have to receive a majority of the votes. We've also added an additional board meeting this year in order to give the board more face-to-face time with our management. And I would add that we have a terrific attendance record with our directors, 98% of all committee and board meetings this year. So thank you to your board for your diligence in attending to this business.
Our governance is rooted in the foundation of values that dad put in place. From our earliest days, Wal-Mart has had a history of holding itself and every associate to the highest standards of integrity. As I said earlier, he put us -- he'd urge us to continue to maintain the highest standards. And how we succeed will continue to be as important as success itself. I can assure you the board today shares that commitment. That's why we're taking allegations related to compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act very seriously. Seven months ago, the Audit Committee of the Wal-Mart Board of Directors, which is composed solely of independent directors, launched an investigation by outside counsel and other advisers who have FCPA experience.
The Audit Committee is using every resource necessary to ensure a thorough and comprehensive inquiry and has instructed the independent investigators to go where the facts lead them.
We are also cooperating with the Department of Justice and the SEC to find out exactly what happened. And in addition to that investigation, the company is committed to continuing its effort to further strengthen its FCPA compliance around the world. This work is ongoing, and it continues every day. Let me be clear, acting with integrity is not a negotiable part of this business. It is our business. We will not tolerate violations of the FCPA or ethical wrongdoing of any kind.
Thank you. If violations of the law or company policies occurred, appropriate action will be taking -- taken. This is our commitment as a board, and it's my personal commitment to each of you, our associates and our shareholders. We will do the right thing, the right way, you have my word on that. Thank you.
I'd like to now introduce our Board of Directors or members as well as our newest nominee. Please hold your applause until the end. Let's get a little bit of light here, so we can see folks. First, we have one board member, who is unable to join us today, but is watching the meeting through our webcast. That is Steven Reinemund, Dean of Business and Professor of Leadership and Strategy at Wake Forest University, former CEO of PepsiCo. The board members in attendance today are Aida Alvarez. Just stand up as I call you out. Aida, former leader of The U.S. Small Business Administration and a member of President Clinton's Cabinet. Jim Breyer, Partner of Accel Partners. And our presiding Director, Michele Burns, Executive Director and CEO of the Retirement Policy Center and Former Chairman and CEO of Mercer Inc. Michele? Jim Cash, the James E Robinson Emeritus Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. Roger Corbett, retired CEO and Group Managing Director of Woolworths Limited, the largest retail company in Australia and a longtime friend of Wal-Mart. Doug Daft, Retired Chairman and CEO of the Coca-Cola Company. Greg -- Mike Duke, Wal-Mart President and CEO right here. Greg Penner, right over here, is a general partner of Madrone Capital Partners. Some guy named Lee Scott, Wal-Mart former President and CEO. Lee? Arne Sorenson, President and CEO of Marriott International Incorporated. My brother Jim Walton, Chairman and CEO of Arvest Bank Group, right here. This is a test for the spotlight operator. Chris Williams, Chairman and CEO of Williams Capital Group, an investment bank. Linda Wolf, former Chairman and CEO of advertising agency. Leo Burnett, great additive on our board. Also, I'm standing for reelection to the board. And finally, we have a nominee standing for elections to the board for the first time, Marissa Mayer, Vice President of Local and Maps for Google Inc. Marissa, stand up, and let's recognize all our board.
So in addition to the election of the board, we have 3 shareholder proposals today. And I'd like to now ask Jeff Gearhart, our General Counsel, to come up -- and Secretary, and come up and introduce those proposals. Thank you, everybody.
Jeffrey J. Gearhart
Good morning. So it's now time to consider the 6 items of official business for our meeting. These 6 matters were the only matters properly brought before the meeting day today, therefore, only these 6 items will be considered and voted on today. No one may address the meeting unless recognized by the Chairman or the Secretary.
The first item of business is the election of 16 directors. Rob just introduced each of the nominees to you. Additional information regarding our board and board committees is contained in the proxy statement. The second company proposal relates to the appointment of Ernst & Young, LLP as the company's independent accountant. Ernst & Young has been our independent auditor since 1970. Although shareholder ratification is not required, this proposal has been included as a matter of good corporate governance. The third proposal is an advisory vote to approve the compensation of Wal-Mart named executive officers.
As described in our proxy statement, our executive compensation program is designed with an emphasis on performance and is intended to closely align the interest of our senior executives with the interest of our shareholders. In our proxy statement, we discussed why we believe that our executive compensation appropriately reflected our company's performance during our last fiscal year.
The vote on this proposal is advisory, which means that the voting results will not be binding on Wal-Mart, the board or the board's compensation nominating governance committee. However, the compensation nominating governance committee will consider the results of the vote on this proposal in its regular evaluations of our executive compensation program.
So now we'll move onto our 3 shareholder proposals. The individuals, who are presenting will have 3 minutes each for their proposals. In the interest of time, the company will not provide a statement or response today. Rather, we refer you to our written response to each one of the proposals that you can find in our proxy statement.
The first proposal is one relating to a political contributions report. Jennifer O'Dell representing the Central Laborers' Pension, Welfare & Annuity Funds will present this proposal. Ms. O'Dell?
Jennifer O' Dell
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Members of the board, fellow shareholders, my name is Jennifer O'Dell, and I'm pleased to be presenting proposal #4 on today's ballot on behalf of the Central Laborers' Pension Fund. The Laborers' International Union of North America represents over 0.5 million construction workers in U.S. and Canada. These members belong to one of our Union's 100 individual benefit funds with $34 billion in assets. We are long-term shareholders, and we believe strongly as active investors and as fiduciaries that we have a duty to ensure that the companies that we invest in have the best practices surrounding governance, sustainability, transparency and executive compensation.
As long-term shareholders of Wal-Mart, we support transparency and accountability in corporate spending and lobbying and political activities. The expenditures upon which we seek a report are those that Congress has set, do not warrant a deduction as an ordinary and necessary business expense. Namely, lobbying, participating in our political system by supporting or opposing candidates for office and trying to influence the general public as to elections, legislative matters or referenda. This includes payments to third parties, including trade associations and other tax exempt groups.
Gaps in transparency and accountability may expose the company to reputational and business risks that could threaten long-term shareholder value. Hundreds of millions of corporate dollars may be flowing into the political process, including state judicial elections and initiative and referenda campaigns, often without controls, board oversight or public knowledge. Some of this money could be supporting candidates' issues and activities that be contrary to the publicly stated values, policies and practices of Wal-Mart . We know that Wal-Mart is a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber advocates on behalf of its membership on a number of issues, including gunning laws, protecting the environment, and perhaps, the most interesting in the case of our company, working to weaken the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a law that forbids American companies and their agents from offering bribes for government officials.
As the New York Times has reported, our company is accused of doing just that to the tune of $24 million during the course of its rapid expansion in Mexico. Further, Wal-Mart's Corporate Secretary and top legal ethics officer sat on the 40-member board of the Institute of Legal Reform, a division of the U.S. Chamber that has led the way in criticizing parts of the law and talking about the needs to change it.
Among them, measures limiting our company's ability for the actions of its subsidiaries and a clear definition of who qualifies as a foreign official. We need -- we believe that shareholders need improved disclosure. We therefore move the shareholder proposal that can be found inside your proxy statement. Thank you.
Thank you, Ms. O'Dell. The second shareholder proposal is one regarding a director nomination policy. Cambria Allen, representing the UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust will present this proposal. Ms. Allen?
Good morning, and thank you. Mr. Chairman, members of the Board, Walmart associates and fellow shareholders, my name is Cambria Allen and I am corporate governance Director for the $55 billion UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust. We provide healthcare benefits to over 800,000 UAW retirees and their dependents. I hereby move proposal 5 on behalf of the trust and the Nathan Cummings foundation.
First and foremost, I would like to stress how important Walmart is to the Trust as both a shareholder and a major healthcare benefits provider. Walmart is among the Trust's largest equity holdings and the company ranks among the top retail pharmacies used by our members. It has become increasingly clear that Walmart is exploring ways to expand its presence in the $2.7 trillion U.S. healthcare industry. Walmart's Health & Wellness merchandise unit, which encompasses pharmacy and optical services, has grown from 9% of net sales in 2009 to 11% this fiscal year. In 2010 alone, the company employed more than 15,000 pharmacists, serving almost 200 million patients per week. The same year, Walmart joined health-insurance giant Humana in launching the Humana Walmart preferred RX plan, which is now the third largest Medicare Part D prescription drug plan in the United States. Walmart also sponsors a $4 prescription drug plan, which has saved consumers over $3 billion since it was established in 2006. Walmart's interest in the healthcare industry soon may extend beyond pharmacy services. In a request for information, issued by the company to vendors in late 2011, Walmart clearly states it intends to build a national integrated low-cost primary care healthcare platform that will provide preventative and chronic care services.
If Walmart indeed moves toward expanding its healthcare offerings, it must be well prepared for the new legal and regulatory risks it will face, including those risks related to quality care and compliance with federal and state laws and regulations.
Last year, the Trust sent a letter to the company urging the board to consider nominating directors with clinical experience in the healthcare field. While Walmart staff acknowledged our letter and agreed to a limited engagement with us on the issue, the company ultimately failed to respond to our concerns about board oversight of risk and compliance issues, which we believe are essential to maximizing shareholder value. Our proposal simply asks of a company to ensure its board is prepared with the necessary tools to effectively manage the risks the company will undoubtedly face as it enters into this field. In our view, the nominees for election at today's meeting do not have the type of direct hands-on experience in the healthcare field we are asking for. At its core, our proposal is about strengthening the board's ability to effectively oversee risks and compliance in a business the company clearly intends to pursue. These are the same concerns that have made today's election and a especially contentious one. Major institutional investors already have announced their intention to vote against those directors they believe were in the best position to confront the Walmex allegations head on and instead chose to downplay the seriousness of the allegations, resulting in what has quickly become a full-blown corporate crisis. Given the concerns we raise in our proposal as well as the current crisis at hand, shareholders want to know how the board will respond to the collective voice of its non-insider owners. We urge shareholders to vote for this proposal. Thank you very much.
Thank you, Ms. Allen. The third and final shareholder proposal is one regarding an annual report on incentive compensation programs. Jackie Goebel, representing herself and certain co-filers, will present this proposal. Ms. Goebel.
Good morning. My name is Jackie Gable. I've been a Walmart investor for 20 years and a Walmart associate for 24 years. The first 10 years Walmart stock was good investment. The last 10 years, we have not been as fortunate as Walmart stock has underperformed most retail -- other retail companies. I, along with the other proponents of proposal 6, Graciela Green, Carlton Smith and Mary Pat Tift, believe that there's a problem with Walmart Executive compensation. At Walmart, even as stock has stagnated and return on investment has gone down year after year, the executives continue to get multimillion dollar bonuses.
Our proposal is a simple one. We want the board to improve its disclosure to explain why bonus incentives for senior executives are the right ones. Because as far as we can tell, our company is placing too much emphasis on growth at any cost. Here in the U.S., we are building new supercenters just down the road from existing ones. And as the company acknowledges, the new stores are taking sales away from the older and existing stores. There's a serious problem for our company, but here's what makes it worse. The bonus incentive for executive seems to encourage this. When same-store sales turn negative, you remove same-store sales from the bonus formula. When return on investment went down, year after year, you lowered the ROI targets so the executives could continue to get million-dollar bonuses anyway. But there are 2 groups of people who pay the price, the shareholders and the associates. When we build too many stores in the U.S. and make too many acquisitions around the world, it makes us less profitable and that hurts the stock and puts more pressure on store managers to cut costs. Ask any associate, we have cut cost too far. Our stores are understaffed, and the associates cannot provide the type of customer service that Sam Walton built this company on and that we were proud to provide to our customers. We see the same problems in the stores every day. The short staffing, the schedule changes, the unfair coachings. If you invested in the stores and the associates, this will be a better company today. As the emphasis on growth at any cost has progressed, we see -- have seen what happened in Mexico. When some people are so focused on growth at any cost, they forgot our code of ethics. We have all felt the pain, the scandal and the dishonor that this has brought to our company. But this didn't happen overnight. Sam Walton said, "Listen to your associates, they are your best idea generators." Well, today, we are asking the leaders of this company to listen to the associates and to listen to the shareholders. There are thousands of us who have invested our blood, sweat and tears in this company, but -- and we want to feel prouder again. But in order to do that, there has to be a new relationship based on honesty, based on trust and based on respect. Thank you.
Thank you, Ms. Gable. And thank you to each of our shareholder proponents. The company truly does appreciate your engagement. Thank you.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome, one of the hottest bands in the U.S.A., from Atlanta, Georgia, the Zac Brown Band.
Than you very much. A pleasure to be here with you all this evening. Thanks so much to Walmart for having us. Good morning. Here's one off the brand-new CD. It's getting ready to come out in July. This one's called The Wind. Do little picking for you, see if we can.
Thank you so much for having us, Sam. Thank you, Walmart.
My name is Mary Hofgardner. I'm from Sam's Club, Midwest City, Oklahoma. And it's with great pleasure that I now introduce to you our President and CEO of Sam's Club, Rosalind Brewer.
Rosalind Gates Brewer
Wow, thank you, Mary. And good morning, everyone. And hello, Sam's Club. Thank you, thank you. So you know this is what it feels like. I've come to many shareholders meeting, this is my sixth one to be exact. And Sam's Club, you've always, always, you've always distinguished yourselves. And now, now I have the great pleasure to really be a part of this truly amazing thing called the Sam's Club team. I love your energy Sam's Club. But let's kick things off. Let's kick things off with the Sam's cheer. Give me an S, give me an A, give me an M, give me a hook. Give me an S. What's that spell? Who's #1? All right. Thank you.
The excitement and the passion that we see here today it really translates, it translates into what we heard Charles talked about. It's about our clubs, it's about our members, it's about what we do every single day. And that translates really into the bottom line. At Sam's Club, we're celebrating 7 quarters, 7 quarters, with consecutive increases at Sam's Club. The first quarter of 2012 was the highest quarter in 8 years. We set out this year to do a couple of really pretty exciting things.
First of all, was to improve the merchandise quality. Also to be the price leaders that we know we can be and to really create an even more dynamic shopping experience every day. And it's really, really paying off. Our membership experience scores are at an all-time high. They are approaching 9%.
The Temkin study just released has showed us as #1 in customer service. And this year, we opened our very -- celebrated, our very first $200 million club in the U.S. in McAllen, Texas. You did it, Sam's Club. This kind of success is unique, and it's possible. And it's only possible, only because of these prior 50 years. Sam's Club was named for our founder. And it was because of Sam Walton's vision today that Walmart and Sam's Club are part of the foundation of our country and is woven into everything around this entire world. So in honor, in honor of our 50th anniversary, let's walk through the moments that have really shaped and formed who we are today over the last 50 years. Let's look at the 1960s, that's when it all began. For those of you all who remember the 1960s, it was the time of really intense change, the Vietnam War broke out, the British invasion brought in, the Beatles, Martin Luther King had a dream and Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. And in Rogers, Arkansas, the very first Walmart opened at 719 Walnut Avenue. It was in 1962 and it was a new kind of service-related discount store. And it revolutionized the whole retail industry and gave all Americans the same affordable pricing that you only saw in major cities. And then the 1970s, as we move into the 1970s, American culture was dominated by Star Wars, by Stevie Wonder, by the Olympic Games and by the emergence of real technological change. And Walmart's upward trajectory began. We continued growing as much as 5x faster than any other U.S. retailer. And that was because Walmart really embraced innovative technology. We did something really new to the industry. We set the industry standard by building distribution centers and an outstanding highly efficient truck fleet.
And then the 1980s. This was the time of the Berlin Wall, Pac Man, Michael J. and Mikhail Gorbachev. And by the way, the very first Supercenter. It opened in 1988. And once again, Walmart changed the retail industry forever. But you know I like to think about the 1980s as the decade of Sam's Club.
The first Sam's Club opened in 1983 at Midwest City, Oklahoma. And today, we have one of the largest, most successful warehouse channels in the world. As Americans moved into the decade of the '90s, we were also named by really remembering all the work that happened in South Africa with Nelson Mandela. Real social change. And the music of U2, and even the movie The Titanic. And by this time, Walmart was officially the largest retailer in the country.
But it was time to branch out, and Walmart opened its first store internationally. And guess what? It was a Sam's Club.
So by the end of the decade, Walmart would be the world's largest private employer and became truly global, moving to Brazil, moving to Canada, moving to Argentina and even more. And now, it's the 21st Century, the new millennium. We think about Harry Potter, we think about Beyoncé, we think about the discovery space shuttle, and we think about hybrid cars, I had one of those. And the New Century dawned with great optimism, great optimism and great celebration. And that's what Walmart reached its milestone of 1,000 supercenters. We also began to use size and scale to really talk about who we are and to change lives. And Walmart was among the very first, very first, companies right on the scene of the hurricane relief for Katrina in New Orleans.
Also at this time, we launched our sweeping sustainability initiatives. It really took us by storm. And all around the world, we began using this work to really inspire our suppliers and to really make a difference. And that meant we were also changing lives in a very big way at Sam's Club. We focused intently on our members and small businesses, and we really got a chance to bring our business owners into what was going on with the economy as it decline. And then we get to now, today, in this decade, 50 years after the first store opened. Walmart is the #1 grocer in the country and the #1 retailer in the world.
We're in 27 countries with more than 10,000 stores and Sam's Clubs, and this is much -- this is much, much more than a story of our past. This is a story of what makes us who we are. And it's a story that's still in the making. We have a great global opportunity to really change the next generation, to really make a difference with our customers and with our members, who just like the people who walk through those doors in that very first store in Rogers, that needed us to help them have a better life. Today they're connecting with us through smartphones and social media. They're shopping with us in clubs in Sacramento, California all the way to Shenzhen, China. And they have the highest expectations of us to deliver quality and to deliver value more than ever before. And they count on us to stay in touch with what's important for the next-generation Walmart. We will develop our best talent, and we'll win in eCommerce, and we'll create even more opportunities for many of these associates in this room. We'll develop new ways to deliver value, and we will continue to make a difference on big global issues, like issues in women's empowerment, issues in fighting hunger, and actually many issues around the environment. So Sam Walton really made history by changing retail over the last 50 years. But you know, now it's up to us to make history once again for the next 50 years. After all, we are 2.2 million associates strong, and that's a lot of people power. No matter what the decade is, our people will always define us, because we are Walmart, and we are Sam's Club. Thank you.
Winner of 17 Latin Grammys, one of the most popular performers in the world today, please welcome Juanes.
Juan Esteban Aristizábal Vásquez
Thank you very much. [Mexican] Such a big honor to be here performing this morning. [Mexican]
Juan Esteban Aristizábal Vásquez
Thank you so much. Mexican.
My name is Joan Gray.
And I'm Francine Keene.
And its with tremendous pride.
That we now introduce to you, President and CEO of Walmart U.S.. Mr. Bill Simon.
Mr. Bill Simon.
William S. Simon
Good morning, everybody. Thank you, Joan and Francine. Your story is just amazing. We appreciate you very much. It's such an honor to be here with you to celebrate 50 years of this great company, and it's my special honor to represent 1.4 million associates from Walmart U.S. From our sales associates to our cashiers, from our zone and department managers to the back office teams, the associates in our distribution centers, and of course, our truck drivers. We've got a lot to celebrate, 50 years, but even more so, 2 weeks ago, Walmart U.S. posted a 2.6 comp, our biggest comp sales increase in 3 years. It's how I feel. We've got momentum in our business, and you can see it in our results. And boy, you can feel it in our stores. See we run an everyday low-cost company so we can deliver Every Day Low Prices with the broadest assortment possible of great merchandise. That's Walmart. That's who we are.
But the single biggest reason for our company's results, and you've heard a lot about it today, or this year, and for the last 50 years, is that we do listen to our associates. And as you've heard, they're not at all shy about speaking up on behalf of their customers, and I love that about them. Thank you.
You see in our business, at our business we listen to them on clothing styles and sizes for example, and we just had our best comp sales in apparel in 6 years. They talked to us about bringing fabrics back into our stores, and we did, and we had an 11 comp in fabrics last year. They told us that our customers wanted help with home improvement projects, so we launched the program called Projects Made Simple, and now we're averaging 30% increases in those categories.
Just for a moment, a quick word to our associates, you did that, you did it, you know your customers and you know how to serve them. So thank you. These results remind us every day that our job in the home office, our real job, is to listen to you. It's an idea that's so simple and so powerful and so incredibly Walmart. And like most good things around here, as you've heard, that idea was given to us as well by Mr. Sam. I've worked for other companies, and I've even served in government, but I could tell from the very first day that this place was different, that it's special. It's our culture and our people that make it that way. And that's what I love most about working for Walmart. And that's really what I want to talk to you about today. You see, Sam Walton and the earliest associates gave us more than this great business model, they gave us this great culture that our Chairman spoke about earlier. It's a culture of service, of action, of purpose, and it's passed down from one associate to another. And I believe that, that's what makes Walmart special and what sets us apart. Here's what I see. All over the world, the contributions of our associates are truly valued. We treat each other and our suppliers with respect, we put the needs of our customers above our own, and we all strive to get better every single day. And like Joan and Francine show us, Walmart is a place of opportunity, where talent and commitment are recognized and rewarded. Every associate can deliver on their dreams at Walmart. Now you can't bottle this spirit. And frankly, I'm not sure we'll ever be able to fully understand or explain it. But rather than listening to me, I thought you might want to hear from some of our associates directly.
Now those associates we heard from are special, but they're not unique. You'll find these unbelievable people in all of our stores and clubs, from Arkansas to Zambia. They are in Azda and in Argentina. They're in China and in Canada. They are at Seiyu. And they are even at Sam's Club. All around the world, all around the world. I wish I could go to everyone of our stores today and thank every associate by name who's made this company what it is today, but I can't. So to every associate who works all night to stock our shelves and serve our customers, thank you.
To every driver who spends time away from your families, even during your Christmas so other families can have theirs, thank you. To every associate, who's invested their time, their energy, their heart and soul in making a career here and making this company better, thank you.
See everyday our customers come to us to stretch their paychecks, and every day, you give them more than any other retailer can. Every day, your fellow associates need you to lean on bad times and to celebrate within good times, and every day you're there for them. I wish I could shake every one of your hands, but I can only say on behalf of your leadership team, your Board of Directors, your shareholders, thank you, thank you, thank you. This is your company. Never forget that. As you hear the story of these last 50 years, know that this is your story. Thank you, all, so much.
All right. How are we doing so far? I was really impressed with the U.K. and Africa who came out here. Very lively. When I start thinking about it, it's 9:00 at night for them. Cheaters. I keep my eyes on you.
We doing good? It's incredible to watch and absorb the impact that Walmart makes on peoples' lives around the world. So many of these programs fly below the radar, but their impact is so very real. Not only here at home but across the globe. Here to help us celebrate these global achievements and, again, to welcome those who have traveled from each corner of the earth, please welcome the 2012 Walmart global celebration and kicking it off, 11-time Grammy award winners, Take 6.
Hi, my name is Sun Yung [ph]. It's great to be here with you in person. It's a real honor to now welcome to the stage, the CEO and President of Walmart International, Doug McMillon.
C. Douglas McMillon
Good morning, Walmart. Good morning. Hello, Walmart International. Thank you, Sun. Thank you very much, Sun. And thank you to all of you, our great associates from around the world. You should be so proud and so proud of the great results that you've generated in the first quarter, sales up 10.9%, $31 billion in revenue and profit up 22.7%. Way to go. Congratulations.
Our focus is on driving growth and returns, and you guys are getting that done. And that's just the latest. This last year, this team opened our 10,000th store. They innovated to serve customers with 30 websites and mobile apps and they added 12 new countries from across the continent of Africa. Welcome, Massmart.
We have had a great week with all of our associates and colleagues from around the world. Earlier, when Rob mentioned Sam's last shareholders meeting in 1991, it brought back some memories for me. I moved from a store into our home office to join the merchandising team in January of 1991, showed up early that first day, and my new supervisor, a guy by the name of Ray Hobbs, came through the lobby to meet me that first morning, grabbed me by the hand and without breaking strides said, walk with me. We head towards the cafeteria and he says, "Listen, you're new, I got 2 things to tell you. First one is the coffee in the cafeteria is hot and we use paper cups so use 2 or you'll burn your hands. Got it. Second thing is, no matter what happens, from this moment forward, when this conversation is over, if something's wrong, something can be better, it's your job to fix it. We take ownership at Walmart." So my first lesson that morning was about ownership. We head back down the hallway, he points at an empty desk in the sporting goods merchandising area and he says, "You are now responsible for buying fishing tackle." First day I didn't know how to be a buyer, I sit down at the desk, I'm going through a stack of papers that's there with some magazines and stuff and I come across a little yellow Post-it note. And on that Post-it note it says, trilene fishing line, Walmart's price and Kmart's price. And Kmart's price was a little bit lower than Walmart's. And there were some initials on it that I couldn't quite make out. I didn't know what to do with it, so I went around to Ray's office, I had that Post-it note in my hand, and I said, "Ray, I found this in a stack of papers on the desk and I'm not sure what's to do with it." I reached out to hand it to him and he jumps up out of his desk and he says, "Do you know who this is from?" And I said, "No." He said, "This is from Sam Walton. Have you fixed it?" I don't know how to do a price change, I just got here. I mean, I nearly had to say, this is my first day. We got that fixed right then, and Ray called Mr. Sam's office to tell him it was fixed. So my second lesson was about a sense of urgency.
My third lesson was about attention to detail. Sam Walton is the founder of the company, and he's paying attention to one item on a store visit and the individual price of that item to make sure we're the lowest price. Sam paid attention to detail. I realized that Walmart is a different kind of company, and that difference came down to Sam Walton's passion for our purpose and his love for our customers. Through the way Sam led, he made everyone of us feel ownership in the business. We felt like it was our customer to serve, our purpose to deliver. Sam was a merchant with a servant's heart. He grew up during the Great Depression in small-town America. He knew what it was like to struggle and could relate to our customers. He developed a true appreciation for value. That's why he wanted to help people save money on the things they needed, so they could have a better life. And as I visit with our customers in stores and in their homes around the world, it's clear to me that our purpose is timeless and it's universal. Our purpose means something to customers everywhere. So the question is, how do we get even better at providing it to even more people? Our associates know the answer to that question, and the answer is one item, one customer at a time. So let me put my merchant hat on for just a second and talk about a couple of items. The first one that I want to share with you is an item we all know, right? This is Coca-Cola. But in India, they do things differently with Coca-Cola. They do it with a twist, so let's say. So in the bottom of this glass is cumin, Alma powder, black pepper and lemon juice. It's early in the morning, and what happens when you open a can of Coca-Cola and you pour it into all of those spices, it's a little bit like a science experiment. See how it foams up? Can you start to imagine what that tastes like? So I wanted an American to try it. Let me see if we can randomly pick an American down here. Where is Mike Duke? Mike, come here. Mike, I know you've been to India a lot. Have you ever had a Masala Coke? Welcome. Give it a try. You like it, I think. What do you think?
Michael Terry Duke
C. Douglas McMillon
Fantastic, he says. Thanks for trying it. Get it ready for everyone. You know that taste you have in your mouth right now? That's going to be there for about 48 hours. They had me try that the other day, and I thought I have got to do this to somebody else.
So let me tell you a second story. That one, you can kind of see what we're trying to do, we're global, Coke is global, but we're local. We create something that's relevant for customers in India and everywhere we operate. So that's the merchandising lesson.
So let me tell you another story. We work with millions of small farmers all over the world, small farmers, co-ops, they benefit because they get access to a market, and they get paid a higher price for what they grow. We benefit because we can move that product fewer miles, and we get a fresher, higher quality product and can pass savings on to the customer, so we both win. So as we travel, we try to get out and see some of these small farms, and I've been on a few around the world. But I, a few months ago, along with a small team, got to visit the smallest farm I've ever been on in my life, and it was in Zambia. And in Zambia, in the community where we were, it's common for people to poach elephants, and the reason they do that is to survive. But some of them have learned that if I can become a farmer, I can actually raise the income level for my family and have a better life. So we're trying to help fulfill that opportunity that they have. And we went on to this farm, back behind me, you see a picture of Veronica. Veronica is wearing the purple blouse and a child is holding on to her hand. She's raising 6 of her siblings' children on the small farm. They grow a number of things, one of the things they grow are peanuts. And those peanuts get turned into It's Wild! Peanut Butter. And we have added this item to our store in Zambia and are planning to bring it to South Africa to try and sell even more, and we want to lift the income levels of people like Veronica around the world.
This one's an extreme example because the farm is so small, but we operate with millions of these small farmers around the world and have the opportunity to really improve their lives and to make things better for our customers and communities around the world. Because you see, we understand that this is a people business. And around the world, we are more alike than we are different. We all want to live better, we all want our children to live better. That's what Sam understood 50 years ago when he started serving customers just up the road in a little shop that was smaller than this stage. Now just imagine, if all 2.2 million of us get up everyday with the same passion for our purpose, the same love for our customers that Sam had, how much more can we do around the world in the next 50 years? I saw a statistic recently that was eye-opening. In 1962, when Sam started this business, there were 3.3 billion people on the planet. Today, there are over 7 billion people. In the emerging markets of Brazil, China, India and across Africa, over 320 million households will enter the middle class over the next decade. Those are customers that Mr. Sam would have wanted us to serve. Customers who need safe food so they can raise healthy children. Customers who want access to affordable prescriptions, so that they can improve the quality of their life. Customers who want their daughters and sons to have access to smartphones and tablets, so they can learn and get an education. Whatever our customers need, wherever they are, we'll be there for them. That's the power of our purpose, and that's the power of what you do. Thank you.
And now, please help me welcome back to the stage Rob, Jim, and Alice to present the Sam Walton Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Please welcome them.
Thank you, Doug. Great message, Doug. This is one of our favorite sessions every year. We get to present the Sam M. Walton Entrepreneur of the Year Award. It is right here. We've been doing this for a lot of years. Jim and Alice, do the honors, please.
James Carr Walton
Glad to, Rob. Our 2012 award winner has spent over 20 years with the company. He began his career in club operations and at Club #8296 in Springfield, Missouri. After several years in club operations, Wal-Mart Stores and Walmart Canada, our award winner knows how to take his knowledge of operations and apply it to merchandise. And today, he exemplifies all the qualities of a great servant leader and merchant. Recently, Sam's Club was ranked the fourth largest food retailer in the United States and a big driver of this success has been the fresh business. Under his leadership, the fresh team has demonstrated entrepreneurial spirit while improving and elevating the quality of merchandise, consistently exceeding the expectations of our members. Last year alone, Sam's Club fresh team, they drove comp sales 9.4% and increased the traffic by 7%. A great team leader, driving great results. Alice, our dad would be proud.
Alice Louise Walton
This individual is truly an innovator. And with his global leadership in the area of sustainable agriculture, the fresh team has developed both new products and processes. Some new products introduced this year include bakery goods, made with responsibly-sourced palm oil and fair trade sugar. Through his efforts, Sam's Club is setting a new pace in the area of sustainability. A hallmark trait of an entrepreneur is their ability to think globally and act locally, to build and lead strong teams that work collaboratively. This year's award winner exemplifies the best in our company's leadership. He is a great listener and has the intensity and urgency to strive for excellence, always. He shares our culture with new and experienced associates, helping to contribute -- all to contribute more than they ever thought they could. An entrepreneur, an innovator, a true steward of our culture. It is an honor to introduce the 2012 Sam M. Walton Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Shawn Baldwin.
S. Robson Walton
Shawn, come on up here.
Alice Louise Walton
Shawn, please come on stage.
S. Robson Walton
Come on down. Congratulations, Shawn.
Alice Louise Walton
The first thing I would say is I've got a lot of people to thank. Just like in the true fashion in our company, these things don't happen in a vacuum and it takes a lot of other good people to get those done. The folks in our merchandising team this last year did a super job from a strategy standpoint and adding quality back into our business. The folks that marketed for us, they do it through the demo department, that team does a great job and our marketing department, getting those products out in the building. And then I would also say that we're lucky because we got an operations team that also reports into us, and they bring it to life in the clubs everyday for the members that are shopping in there. So I want to thank all of those folks. I'd also thank you guys for the opportunity to work in a company that gives you something different and a new challenge everyday. So I can't remember one day being the same here in over the 20 years, which is something that keeps it exciting as you go through it. Then last, I'd say thanks to my wife and my boys. She's sitting here with me today. It's funny when people -- she keeps it into perspective when somebody asks her what I do, she says I do something with produce at Sam's. So I appreciate her very much. Thank you, all.
Winner of 15 Grammy Awards and one of the most well-known entertainers in the world today, please welcome the incomparable Lionel Richie.
Lionel Richie, everybody. Yes, I know, I know, you can sit back down, that's fine. Give it one more time, Lionel Richie. All right, let's move this thing along. As your host for this evening, what I do may look -- well, it may look easy, the walking, the talking, the moving of mic from the right hand to your left hand, to your right hand, back to your left, to your right, to your left. You didn't see that one coming, did you? Now this may seem somewhat brainless -- I'm almost positive that I love you, too. Take me out to dinner first, we'll talk about it.
Now it may seem somewhat brainless, and it probably is, what I'm doing right now. But it does take a little bit of skill. That said, sometimes, I feel -- I feel a little overwhelmed. I know, thank you. Thank you, Dr. Phil. I mean, the pressure performing, the parties, the trips around the world, there's more parties, I know, it's a lot of parties. What am I supposed to do? Not show up? Anyways, it could be too much. So something you don't know that recently I had a breakdown. Yes, I know. So what I did was I called my dear friend Jeffrey Katzenberg, he made a few phone calls, one phone call. He knows a lot of people. And he opened the door for me to launch a new career. And well, you know what? Why don't we just roll the video. Pretty much says it all.
So, so, so probably I should work at Walmart. So there you have it. Now you know how I became your host for the 2012 Walmart shareholders meeting. And I got to tell you, I am proud, proud to be here. One thing I now know, being a Walmart associate, it's not as easy as it looks. Even though I may not be picking up shifts now, the whole -- like the whole actor/singer, songwriter, entrepreneur, 6 Grammys, 4 Emmy's, like I said, who's counting? It doesn't matter. If it all starts to go away, I can save this, so I can just get a close-up of that. Save money, live better. I stole this off a guy who showed up here early, and we have the same name.
Don't tell anybody. Anyways, if I can't get back to Santa Clarita, you guys will let me know if there's an opening at any of your stores, right? I'd be happy to come. I mean, I'm a master zoner now. I zone everything. I could zone this crowd. You guys need to move up. There's some empty spots right there. I zoned my bathroom now. My medicine cabinet. Brushing my teeth looking at it. Beep. Can't get away with that.
All kidding aside, our next subject is something that is near and dear to our hearts and so very important as we look to the future, and the future that is sustainability. Being a global leader in retail comes with responsibilities, a commitment to renewable energy, working to create 0 waste, selling products that sustain people and the environment. It takes associates, customers and communities around the world to make changes that impact us all. Walmart has made tremendous progress on all of these areas, and I think here's a message that we all can be proud.
What's up, Sam's Club associates? Oh, yes, yes, yes. Oh, we get it, you like to party, we get it. Oh, yes. All right. Oh, was that of who zella [ph]? Oh, okay. What's up? All right. So I was thinking we could try something out. Without question, a recurring theme today is the customer, right? And it's amazing to me how much attention and time Walmart spends thinking about the customer. So I thought, so I thought, I know that seems like a stretch, that I would even think, so I thought how cool it would be if I found in Fayetteville a Walmart customer, bring them into the audience and interview them live so you could hear from them first hand, is that okay? All right. I ran into this young lady this morning. I invited her to join us for a few minutes and just talk about what Walmart means to her. She's a little bit shy, so a little encouragement would help her out. So, come here, sweetheart, come up, yes. All right. So, wow, you guys really do like the customers. Okay. So hi, what's your name and where are you from?
My name is Taylor, I'm from Nashville.
Nashville. Taylor, what do you for a living in Nashville?
I'm a singer.
Of course you are. A singer. Whatever. And I guess, if you're a singer and you live in Nashville, you're probably a songwriter, too?
Yes, and I have 6 Grammys, too.
Okay. Waitress. So tell us, where is your favorite Walmart and why do you love shopping there?
There's this one that they put in near my high school I used to go to in Hendersonville that we loved. And I don't know, I really like Walmart because my band and I love to go there.
Oh, you have a band. Okay. I'm sorry. Keep going.
And we go in there and they have everything that we need. And yes, I have a band.
No, no, at the store.
Yes, they have like -- I don't know, like, they have candy and...
They have good candy, don't they? Have you ever tried the steaks there? The steaks are amazing. Just try them.
Yes, the steaks, Law & Order DVDs, they have cat toys.
They have everything. Everything.
And so how are the associates when you're there?
Well, the thing is like whenever I go in there, there's like usually like a giant pack of people that go around following after, but then the associates, which is weird...
It's curious, but the associates always help me find what I need, which is amazing, and they're always so helpful.
Well, okay. Well, I guess, Taylor, if you sing for a living, maybe we should ask her to play a song or. Everybody, welcome 6-time Grammy award winner, country music superstar and one of the lights of my life, Taylor Swift.
My name is Valeda, and I work at -- I've been a Walmart associate for 50 years. I can't imagine what the next 50 will bring. One thing I do know, the words of Mr. Sam Walton, "We're working together, and that's the secret." And it's my pleasure to welcome the President and the CEO of Walmart Stores, Mr. Mike Duke.
Michael Terry Duke
Valeda, I can't let you leave the stage. First of all, I do want to thank you for the introduction. That was very, very nice of you. But I really want to thank you for the 50 years of service to our company, just like everyone else here is doing.
It's been a pleasure. It really is.
Michael Terry Duke
And, Valeda, I've met Dave also. Dave was in Bentonville, not long ago. Dave, it's good to see you again. Many of you might not know, Dave is, I believe, is still a manager.
Well, he's my assistant.
Michael Terry Duke
Assistant? Right, exactly.
He's my running buddy.
Michael Terry Duke
A running buddy. And at Walmart, we talk about serving leadership, so we know -- we understand, Dave, how that works. I did want to ask you, over 50 years, how many managers do you think you have trained over the 50-year period of time? Would you have any idea?
Mr. Duke, I have no idea, but there's a lot. I mean probably 30, 35.
Michael Terry Duke
You know what, I've heard and met many of them. It's amazing people would come up and say, "Valeda trained me." And they spread out all over the world. I think a lot of managers are just claiming that because they know that if you train them, they're going to be a good manager, so...
Mr. Jack Carmichael [ph] was my first manager.
Michael Terry Duke
I know. I've heard of that also. And as a matter of fact, I want to ask you about Dave. Is he a pretty good manager.
One of the best.
Michael Terry Duke
One of the best. That's good to hear, Dave. How do you think I'm doing?
Well, so far, so good.
Michael Terry Duke
That's kind of the way it works at Walmart. Every day is a new day. So Valeda again, I want to thank you. This company is special because of special associates like you. I'd like -- I know most of the audience were standing. I'd ask everyone again to stand and let's appreciate, not only Valeda but every associate that had worked and made this company a great, great company. Thank you so much.
Michael Terry Duke
Great to see you. I love you.
Thank you. I love you.
Michael Terry Duke
Bye-bye. Well, this has been a special meeting, hadn't it? Just a fantastic meeting in every respect, and our associates are the reason that it's such a great meeting, associates like Valeda. I'd like to start off this by -- I'd like to say a very special thank you to our Board of Directors for their outstanding service to our great company, and I really appreciate and appreciate getting a chance to work with our Board of Directors.
And I would really like to take a moment, a special moment, to appreciate Rob and Alice and Jim and all of the members of the Walton family, because we are so fortunate to have you as an enduring part of our company and carrying forward the great legacy of Sam Walton. Let's appreciate the Walton family again.
We should take the opportunity. This is a historic moment. We should take the opportunity at this historic moment to think deeply about Walmart, not just what we do day in and day out, but how we do it and why we do it and what it all adds up to in the world. Sam Walton thought about these things. You can tell from the videos. When he started Walmart 50 years ago, he was thinking about it. He cared about giving his best every day. He cared about motivating people, valuing every dollar, swimming upstream.
When you listen to how he talked about Walmart toward the end of his life, we've seen some of those videos, he knew that we were on a path to helping people all around the world for many, many years. Sam knew that he had built the strongest of foundations, one made of enduring values that connect together by the common community that we all share.
Even before I joined Walmart over 20 years ago, I knew Walmart's values were special, because I remember 20 years ago, I was working for another retailer at the time. I went to a conference, and I listened to the Walmart CEO, David Glass. David Glass gave a speech at that retail logistics conference. I will never ever forget that speech that David gave. Because everything that David talked about was focused on people and doing business the right way. There wasn't a big ego or arrogance. He talked about focus on the associates, not being afraid to fail. He talked about learning from our mistakes and other values of Walmart.
As I travel around the world today, I see enduring values thriving at Walmart. We treat each other with respect. We genuinely care about each other and our customers. And we know what matters most in our company is what happens out in the stores and the clubs. I tell people in the home office sometimes, "If you want to get inspired, go on visit the stores, go out and talk to the associates like Valeda. Go out and talk to the customers."
I try to do that every week. I'm out in stores and all over the world as a matter fact, and I always make sure I talk and listen to the hourly associates and to the customers. And to all the store and club associates here from all over the world, I want all of you to know, and I want you to tell all your fellow associates, you are why I have a job. And I want to personally appreciate everyone of you one more time. So thank you again all of you associates in the stores.
We serve millions of people around the world, aspiring to be a part of this growing middle class. These customers are caring for their families and they're building a better life. There's so much pride in this, and our customers appreciate the role that Walmart plays. We help our customers feel cared for and cared about. Walmart also, you all know this, you've seen it, goes above and beyond during times of crisis. It's interesting. I still hear about when I'm around the middle of the country how back in 1982, how Walmart responded to a devastating tornado in Marion, Illinois. And it's still being talked about today.
In recent years, we think of Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami in Japan, the earthquakes in China and Chile, and then that terrible tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri, just a little over a year ago. At moments like these, we come together as a family. We extend our family into the community. And yes, we do the good that needs to be done.
If we look back at our success over the past 50 years, it would be easy for us to ask that simple question, why Walmart? Why not another retailer? Why were we so blessed? I believe that there is a very simple answer. It's the culture, it's the beliefs and it's the enduring values, the enduring values that live within us and are expressed through us and through our actions every single day. No matter who we are or where we come from, our values pull us together and keep us together. They constantly push us forward to become a better and a stronger company. This is my message to you today. The values that built Walmart and define Walmart and sustain Walmart for the past 50 years will drive our success and make us proud for the next 50 years.
Yes, Charles Holley showed a little bit earlier. Walmart delivered a good performance last year, a really good performance.
I'd also like to highlight the first quarter because Walmart had a great first quarter for this year. In fact, every segment of our company had a great first quarter. So let me tell you about it. Walmart U.S. stores delivered the best comp sales in more than 3 years. The international business, Doug, the international business achieved amazing 22% profit growth. That's fantastic from international. And then Sam's Club, Sam's Club just kept building. So way to go, Sam's Club.
I've said this several times, and I'll say it many more times, Walmart is the best-positioned global retailer in the world today. But we're not going to sit back and take it easy, are we? That wasn't Sam Walton's way, and it's not our way today. Because we're out looking ahead. We're looking at the world 5, 10 and 20 years from now. That's why you've heard me talk in some of these meetings and other meetings so much about the Next Generation Walmart, the future generation of our company.
That's why I am so pleased with the progress that we've made over the past couple of years in this area of preparing for the future. We're thinking like a global company that understands the local customer. We are churning the productivity loop. We're leveraging expenses. We're investing in price leadership and giving savings to our customers. I agree with what Rob said, Walmart has the best talent, the best people in global retailing. And all through our business, we are strengthening our global eCommerce by investing in people, talent. We're investing in technology, and our online business is growing all over the world.
We continue to lead in sustainability. We're setting ambitious new goals. We're dealing with major issues like hunger, the environment, the women's economic empowerment. This is Walmart.
But, we cannot slow down. We have to accelerate, pushing, leading, experimenting, innovating. That's who we are. It's not enough just to keep up. We have to stay out in front. And as we do that, we must continue to hold tight to those enduring values that have made us special. I believe that what we believe will only become more important in the complex and the rapidly changing world ahead.
We all know our 3 basic beliefs, respect for the individual, service to our customers and striving for excellence. These are the pillars of our culture, but there is a foundation on which they stand. This foundation is made up of enduring values that we all share, that truly make us special and that connect us all at a human level. So I'd like to touch on a few of the enduring values that I personally believe are so important today.
First, integrity is the bedrock of our foundation. I believe this is one of the reasons that Sam Walton was so beloved. People trusted him to do the right thing, and he did. And if you work for his company, he expected the same of you.
Now we have all heard about the recent allegations about the company. Let me be clear. Walmart is committed to compliance and integrity everywhere that we operate. And we are working to continually strengthen this. I want to personally assure you. We're doing everything we can to get to the bottom of this matter, and we will take the appropriate actions when the investigations are complete.
But let me go ahead and speak directly to all of our leaders here and to all of our associates here at Walmart. If you work for Walmart, there is no gray area between right and wrong. It's either the right thing to do, or we shouldn't do it at all. This is my standard. This was Sam Walton's standard, and it is the standard that we will all live up to at Walmart everywhere we go and everything we do. We will not accept anything less than integrity.
Second, we believe in opportunity. If you work hard, develop your skills and do a good job, you can advance at Walmart. This is true. I'm glad so many of you know it and experienced it, too, because this is true. You could be a graduate at one of our recent training centers in Brazil that I visited back in April, or you could be an hourly cashier who just moved and needs a new opportunity, or you could be a single mom looking to supplement your income.
I think one of the greatest examples is right here in the United States. This is something to be so proud of that nearly 75% of our management in store operations in the United States started with our company as an hourly associate, and then had been promoted to management. That is a fantastic accomplishment. Nothing makes me more proud than to see an associate climb the ladder and build a better life for themselves and their family.
Third, we believe in family and community. When I tour a store, you know what I love to hear? An associate call a customer by name. But what really lights me up when I'm out in the stores is when an associate even asks a customer about their children and they ask about their children by name also. So they really know each other. The fact is, we're not just associates and customers in our stores. We're people who grew up together. We worship together. We all are from the same neighborhoods, the same streets. We're friends and neighbors. At Walmart, we are a family and we're a community.
Fourth, we believe in work with purpose. Our purpose is helping our customers save money, so they can live better. Whether I'm in China or South Africa or -- like I was just a few weeks ago, I was in New Mexico. And I like to drop in, I like to drop in and visit customers in their homes, because nothing makes it more real to me of the way customers live and how Walmart is so important to them when I get a chance to meet with them and their families in their homes. I get to know them. I know their families. I understand more about how we can better serve them. At Walmart, you better believe our work adds up and to make better lives in a better world.
Fifth, we believe in responsibility. As Lee Scott would tell us in the past, "Where else can you go to work every day and know that you can change the world for the better? Only at Walmart." What a difference this understanding of our mission has made for our company. We've been so fortunate that our success has been what it has been over the last 50 years. And when you're given so much, you have a responsibility to give back and to do good. Walmart is making food healthier, our planet greener and the communities that we work in and live in stronger. We are making a difference, a big, big difference in the world today.
We see the pictures here, and it's amazing, isn't it? To think back that the first-ever Walmart store had just 25 associates in the store, was only 35,000 square feet in that store #1 in Rogers, Arkansas. 50 years later, we're on 5 continents, 27 countries, over 10,000 stores, over 2 million associates and over 200 million weekly customer visits and over 1 billion square feet of retail space. You can't build a company of that size over that time period during so much change in the world on a weak foundation. It requires bedrock that runs deep, building blocks that are strong and mortar that holds it all together. So I believe Sam Walton's greatest legacy was the foundation that he built. The culture, the beliefs and the enduring values that I've talked about today: integrity, opportunity, family, purpose and responsibility.
We can't possibly envision what the world or what retailing or what Walmart will look like in another 50 years. But if we stay true to the foundation that Sam Walton built, we'll continue to be a better company, a stronger company and a prouder company. And over the next 50 years, there will be no limit to the good that we can do all over the world. We'll help millions more customers do what they aspire to do for themselves and for their families to save money and to live better. Thank you, all, very, very much.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome back, Rob Walton.
S. Robson Walton
All right. We're going to wrap up pretty quickly. This is the closing of the business portion of the meeting, and I'm going to inform you that the polls have now closed for our election. If you filled out a ballot and you hadn't turned it in, hold your hand up with your ballot and give it to an usher, and we will count it. I'll give the unofficial preliminary results from today's meeting.
On Proposal #1 involving the election of directors, all 16 directors where elected by an affirmative vote of the majority of the holders of shares in present or by proxy and eligible to vote. Therefore, all 16 directors are elected.
Proposals #2 and 3 were also approved. These related to the approval of Ernst & Young as our independent accountants and a nonbinding advisory resolution to approve executive compensation.
Proposals #4 through #6 were the 3 shareholder proposals you heard. None of these proposals received a for vote from the holders of a majority of the shares, which were voted. Therefore, each of these 3 proposals failed and is not approved.
We'll issue an announcement on Monday, June 4, with the approximate voting percentages for each of these proposals. The official voting results for each of these proposals will be disclosed in our Form 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission next week. This adjourns the business portion of the meeting, and I thank you, all, for a fantastic meeting. Let me turn it back to JT.
All right. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Walton. Again, I apologize for the hula skirt. It's been an amazing morning, right? And I can honestly say this is a show I'm never going to forget. I finally understand the Walmart way. It's not just associates, you are a family. And I can't imagine what the next 50 years has in store for you and for me, because I buy a lot at Walmart. I really do. I do, single-handedly supporting a lot.
As a matter fact, I'll tell you a little personal, little anecdote about me. I want to talk about me. Up until -- I grew up in Shelby Forest, Tennessee. And you don't know where it is. It's not on the map. Just outside of Millington, Tennessee, outside of Memphis, Tennessee. And from the -- up until I was about 10 years old, it took us 30 minutes to drive to anywhere and then -- and the closest thing to us was Walmart.
And so my experience, the first toys I ever got, from Walmart. I think the first ham we ever had, brought over Thanksgiving, I mean everything.
When I was 10 years old, my stepdad, who had married my mom when I was 5, he said, "Son, I'm going to give you your first lesson in business." Now let me just pause right there for a second and say that every morning, my stepdad was a huge Lakers fan and myself, there you go, myself at the time, Michael Jordan was boss. So I was a big Chicago Bulls fan when I was a kid. But who didn't like Michael Jordan, right? So we used to fight over the sports page every morning. And so keep that in mind, as I tell the story.
He said, "I'm going to give you your first lesson in business." He said, "For your 10th birthday, I just bought you some stock." And I said, "Really?" I don't even know what that means because I'm 10. He said, "I bought you 50 shares of Walmart stock." True story, true story.
In the next 3 months, the stock split. And then it split again. And I took my 200 shares, and I cashed it out. And I went straight to Walmart and bought every toy. So it was lucrative, a pretty lucrative business deal for me, if you think about it. But I'm almost convinced that he did it, so I would start looking at the business section, and then he would get to look at the sports section of the -- so it was lucrative for the both of us.
But Walmart has always been a staple in my family, and I'm so proud to be here. I'm really and genuinely excited to be here and see all of you and say much, much gratitude from me. So thank you. I won't cash out this time. I'll just hold on.
Now the other possible way I can think to end a meeting like this is to just introduce you to one of the most talented musical artists in the world. Ladies and gentlemen, get on your feet, and please welcome the one and only Celine Dion.
Thank you so much. Thank you. Good morning, everyone. How is everybody doing today? Well, we are doing pretty good, too. It's a great honor to be here with all of you today.
For the past 20 years, our record company, Sony Music, has been talking with us about how important Walmart has been in supporting music and artists, such as myself. So I'm happy that I could be here in person to thank all of you for your hard work and your support over the years. Thank you so much.
And of course, I want to congratulate Walmart on your 50th anniversary, and my wish to each and every one of you is for good health and happiness in the years ahead. And I couldn't leave without giving a special hello to my Walmart store #2050 in Henderson, Nevada. It's not going to be pretty. It's going to cost me a lot of money. René and I, we go there a lot on our way home. After my shows, I go there and I shop because it's kind of like it's easy. And we raise kids. We have -- the family is getting bigger now. We need a lot of stuff. What a better place than Walmart.
Well, we are going to do one more song. And to help us to do it, I'm very proud to be joined by 2 wonderful choirs. Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together for the Arkansas Gospel Mass Choir and the Walmart Associate Choir. Thank you so much.