To Our Shareholder, Associates and CustomersOur Priorities: Growth. Leverage. Returns.One of the most gratifying days for me during the past year was the important sales day after Thanksgiving in the United States. As I walked through one of our stores, the engineer in me loved seeing the efficiency and smoothness of how our operations executed and performed. But I loved even more hearing from customers who were going to be able to afford an enjoyable Christmas for their families. They were so thankful for Walmart, and we were so thankful for the opportunity to help them. Customers all around the world trust us to fulfill our mission of saving people money so they can live better. They expect quality, low prices and the absolute best value. Last year, we delivered on those expectations. By doing so, we showed how much we care about our customers, especially in difficult times. And just as important, we produced strong results for our shareholders. I want to thank our two million associates around the world for this success. I appreciate them for all they do every day to serve our customers and uphold our company’s beliefs and values.
- Growth: We will continue to grow around the world. We have many opportunities to grow by opening new stores, entering new markets, making acquisitions, integrating online channels, and developing new, innovative formats to allow people to experience the Walmart brands.
- Leverage: We are leveraging our scale and best practices to create competitive advantages. We also remain committed to leveraging operating expenses and finding additional ways to increasingly benefit from our global expertise, talented associates and company scale.
- Returns: We have a rich heritage of delivering strong shareholder returns. Each operating segment is focused on contributing to consistent, strong company returns.
We strongly believe that Walmart is the best positioned global retailer and that we can continue to build on our momentum. As amazed as I’ve been by the global growth I’ve seen during my 15 years at Walmart, I’m even more impressed by the opportunities that are ahead both in the United States and around the world. Specifically, we’re focused on enhancing shareholder value by driving three important priorities: growth, leverage and returns.
Leverage. Second, we are committed throughout the organization to leverage expenses and improve productivity. Our goal remains very clear: we will grow operating expenses slower than sales and grow operating income faster than sales. By lowering expenses, passing those savings on to customers, bringing more customers in our doors, and selling more merchandise, we’re reenergizing the “productivity loop” that’s been so vital to Walmart throughout our history. We will do even more to leverage the scale, expenses and expertise of our total company all around the world. We’ll continue to make investments in technology that are clearly driving greater efficiency throughout our company. And we plan to move even quicker and be a more innovative company.
Live better. Throughout my first year in this new role, I was continually impressed with Walmart’s opportunity to lead on big issues in the world. We are proud of our work to be a more sustainable company, to make health care in the United States more affordable and accessible, and to create economic opportunity through jobs and investments in our communities. With our reach and the people, communities and customers we represent, we must continue to make a difference on the issues that matter.
This time and this world. We live at a time and in a world that I believe truly calls out for Walmart and the work that our two million associates do every day. Sam Walton may not have been able to guess the specific challenges we’ve all faced over the past year or the challenges we’ll face in the future. But he had a vision for a company that would help people “save and do better” in life. And he believed that vision could apply everywhere. It’s up to us to fulfill this vision to the greatest extent possible. That’s our responsibility. When I speak with customers, I know this is what they expect from Walmart – no matter how good or challenging the economy. At the same time, we will live and uphold our extraordinary values and beliefs that are the foundation of everything we do. We’ll show that we respect individuals and always put our customers first, while driving the changes needed to be an even better company. We will make the absolute most of our opportunity and capacity to lead as a retailer, as a company, and as people who truly care about serving and helping other people around the world.
Michael T. Duke
President and Chief Executive Officer
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.