Walton Stock Regains 12-Digit Value; Hunt Family No. 2

by Gwen Moritz  on Monday, Sep. 8, 2008 12:00 am  

(To see the list of the top shareholders in the state of Arkansas, click here for a PDF. A spreadsheet version is also available.)

Always at the top of Arkansas Business' annual list of the state's top stockholders, the heirs of Sam Walton have moved up in one respect: For the first time since 2000, the family's shares of Wal-Mart stock are valued at more than $100 billion.

The list is ranked by the value of publicly disclosed stockholdings in excess of $1 million, based on closing prices as of Aug. 15. The data are gleaned from filings with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission, which requires disclosure by officers, directors and any person or entity that owns at least 5 percent of the outstanding shares of any company.

The Walton family's 12-digit total – $101 billion, all of it in stock of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. – is two digits longer than their nearest competitors. And this year, No. 2 is the family of trucking magnate J.B. Hunt – specifically, his widow, Johnelle, and son, Bryan. Their 34 million shares of J.B. Hunt Transport Services were worth $1.3 billion on Aug. 15, though the share price had dropped about 5 percent by last week.

In October 2007, the last time this list was compiled, the Hunt family holdings were worth a mere $935 million, good enough only for fifth place on the list. But a 45 percent run-up in the price of J.B. Hunt Transport stock allowed the Hunt family to surpass the meat-producing family of Don Tyson and the heirs of financiers Witt and Jack Stephens.

The value of Tyson family shares in Tyson Foods Inc. dropped from $1.43 billion on last year's list to just under $1.2 billion primarily because of a reduction in holdings by more than 13 million shares. This was accomplished by first converting Class B shares – the controlling shares owned almost exclusively by the Tyson family – to Class A common stock.

The holdings of Witt Stephens' surviving children, Witt Jr. and Elizabeth Stephens Campbell, are combined in the list with those of Jack Stephens' son Warren A. Stephens, although the two sides of the family have undertaken a gradual separation of their fortunes.

On last year's list, the Stephens stockholdings were still over the $1 billion mark; this year, the total is $222 million. That's the result of the sale of Alltel Corp. of Little Rock to private equity investors in November 2007, removing more than $600 million from the total, combined with slumping prices for two other major Stephens investments, Texas electronics retailer Conn's Inc. and California electronic component maker Power-One Inc.

Power-One, which traded at an adjusted price above $84 back in 2000, closed at $2.19 on Aug. 15 and had dropped a bit more by last week. Meanwhile, Conn's had regained almost $3 per share since its mid-August close of $16.79.

Without Alltel in the mix, the Stephenses' known stockholdings dropped them to No. 6 on the list, immediately behind E. Wayne Garrison, chairman of J.B. Hunt Transport. The same market strength that benefited the Hunt family sent Garrison's stock value to $234 million.

The William Dillard family, controlling shareholders of Dillard's Inc. of Little Rock, tumbled from No. 7 on last year's list to No. 10 with total known holdings of just over $80 million. That's behind Bank of the Ozarks CEO George Gleason II and his wife, Linda, and Wal-Mart millionaires Jack Shewmaker and H. Lee Scott Jr. Dillard's stock, which reached $40 per share in mid-2007, closed at $11.95 on Aug. 15.

By the Numbers

This year's list includes 112 individuals whose stockholdings were worth at least $1 million. That's down from 115 on last year's list, primarily because of the loss of Alltel executives and directors.

The total value of the shares held by list members is $106.67 billion – including more than $101.1 billion for the Walton family alone. This year, the Walton total includes shares owned by Gregory B. Penner, son-in-law of Wal-Mart Chairman Rob Walton. Penner was elected to the board of directors in June.

An alphabetical index of the 112 top stockholders can be found by clicking here.



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