Wal-Mart at 50: A Not-So-Short History Of the World's Largest Retailer

by Eric Francis  on Monday, Jul. 2, 2012 12:00 am  

• In June, after the share price rises to $47, early investors are treated to the first of 11 two-for-one stock splits.


• In an article datelined Bentonville, the Arkansas Gazette reports: “In 1945, two brothers, both in their mid-30s, borrowed $25,000 to buy a variety store at Newport. Today, Sam and J.L. Walton own a chain of discount stores that stretches across five states and earned a profit last year of $2,900,000.”

• In April, just 10 months after its first stock split, Wal-Mart stock is again trading above $47 and is split again.

• On Aug. 25, Wal-Mart stock begins trading on the New York Stock Exchange, opening at $32.50 and closing at $33.


• Wal-Mart establishes its ties to the University of Arkansas with a gift of 2,500 shares of stock, worth about $85,000, the income from which was “to supplement the salaries of one or more full professors in the Marketing Department.” The gift gets second billing in the Arkansas Gazette, after a donation of $100,000 from the educational trust established by Robert E.L. Wilson.

• The first Wal-Mart store is replaced by a 56,000-SF model on another corner of the same intersection in Rogers.

• By the end of the year, Wal-Mart’s stock has dropped in value by more than half, closing the year at $13.38.


• In addition to touting the company’s $167 million in sales and $6.1 million in earnings in the annual report, Sam Walton adds this note: “In 1974, we rebuilt and opened a 65,000 square foot store in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and a 30,000 square foot store in Berryville, Arkansas. Both had been completely destroyed. Jonesboro was devastated by a tornado in May 1973, and Berryville was destroyed by fire in December 1972.”

• Sam Walton retires. This lasts for one year before he unretires.



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