The Top 10 Business Stories of 2008

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Dec. 22, 2008 12:00 am  

John Glasgow, CFO of CDI Contractors, disappeared on Jan. 28. Dillard's owned a half-interest in CDI and was embroiled in a bookkeeping dispute with CDI management when Glasgow, of Little Rock, vanished.

Naming Duke fit into Wal-Mart's plans to expand its international presence, which is the company's fastest-growing sector.

Wal-Mart's international division now accounts for about 25 percent of the company's total sales, up from 16.8 percent of sales in 2000.

Under Duke's leadership, Wal-Mart's international sales have jumped from $59.2 billion in 2005 to an estimated $103 billion for the company's fiscal year that ends Jan. 31, according to an Oct. 30 research report by Morgan Stanley.

The research report also shows Wal-Mart is projected to shatter another revenue record with $404.6 billion in revenue and $13.6 billion in net income when its fiscal year ends on Jan. 31, 2009. For the year ending Jan. 31, 2008, Wal-Mart reported $378.8 billion in revenue and net income of $12.7 billion.

But the Bentonville retailer is outgrowing the U.S. market. Wal-Mart operates more than 4,000 stores and Sam's Clubs in the United States and has a presence in almost every market. By the end of 2005, nearly half of all Americans lived within five miles of the nearest Wal-Mart or Sam's Club and 88 percent lived within 15 miles.

Each time Wal-Mart opened a new store, it risked cannibalizing its own sales. During the fiscal year that ends on Jan. 31, Wal-Mart will have added 23 million SF to its U.S. market. However, for the following fiscal year, Wal-Mart plans to add only 14 million SF.

Wal-Mart isn't trimming its overseas markets. In the upcoming fiscal year, Wal-Mart will be adding between 19 million and 20 million SF in overseas markets.

Scott said during the company's annual shareholders meeting in June that the international market was going to be an even bigger part of the company and that he sees a "tremendous opportunity" for the company and that division.

On Jan. 31, Scott will leave Wal-Mart on a high note.  While other retailers' stock prices tanked in 2008, Wal-Mart's stock was still up more than 15 percent for the year – and had been up almost 35 percent before the big Wall Street selloff started in October.

Also during his tenure as CEO, Scott introduced several initiatives that quieted the company's critics. Wal-Mart's $4 prescription drug plan, introduced in 2006, was followed in 2007 by Scott's announcement that Wal-Mart would open 400 in-store health clinics by 2010. Scott also pushed environmentally friendly products while building more "green" stores.

In addition, between 2002 and 2008, Wal-Mart has been No. 1 in Fortune magazine's list of the largest companies ranked by revenue except in 2006, when it finished No. 2. 



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