Walmart Reigns in Net Income, Executive Pay

Walmart Reigns in Net Income, Executive Pay
Doug McMillon speakers at the 2019 Walmart shareholders' meeting at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville. (Walmart Inc.)

Walmart Inc. rules Arkansas Business’ annual lists of the state’s public companies and how much their executives are paid, and it’s hard to imagine a time when that won’t be true — especially as the lists get shorter.

Since last year, two corporations have disappeared from the roster of publicly traded companies headquartered in Arkansas.

Murphy Oil Corp. — see El Dorado Still Has A Murphy to Rely On for more details — moved its headquarters from El Dorado to Houston in 2020. Windstream Holdings Inc. of Little Rock emerged from its bankruptcy reorganization as a privately held company.

The lists of public companies and publicly traded financial institutions are ranked by net income in their most recently completed fiscal years.

Dec. 31 is the typical year-end, but Tyson Foods Inc. ended its year on Oct. 3, Walmart and Dillard’s Inc. in late January and America’s Car-Mart of Rogers on April 30. (See Car-Mart Plans ‘Audacious’ Growth by Adding Customers.)

Walmart executives occupy the top five positions, plus No. 8, on the list of public company executives ranked by total compensation. Walmart CEO Doug McMillon tops the list with a pay package last fiscal year totaling $22.5 million — 2% more than the previous year and almost $10 million more than No. 2, Executive Vice President Kathryn McLay.

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Notably absent from the executive compensation list is Donnie King, CEO of Tyson Foods. Although he rejoined Tyson in 2019, King was not among the five named executive officers included in Tyson’s proxy released in December. Noel White, Tyson’s CEO during the last fiscal year and No. 7 on the list, was succeeded by Dean Banks with the start of the current fiscal year in October. Then he left for “personal reasons” and was replaced by King in June.

In all, 78 executives from 15 companies are ranked, with John S. Bailey, who takes no salary as CEO of BSR Real Estate Investment Trust of Little Rock, bringing up the rear. Only eight realized any income by exercising stock options in 2020, amounts not included in total compensation.

In addition to the compensation of named executives, Arkansas Business’ annual list reflects the median pay for all other employees of the company, a metric the SEC began requiring in proxies for the 2017 fiscal year.

Median Employee Pay
Arkansas public companies ranked by median employee compensation

ArcBest Corp., Fort Smith $90,310
Uniti Group Inc., Little Rock $78,882
J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc., Lowell $67,154
Simmons First National Corp., Pine Bluff $51,277
America's Car-Mart Inc., Rogers $48,000
Bank OZK, Little Rock $46,415
Home BancShares Inc., Conway $46,133
USA Truck Inc., Van Buren $43,079
Tyson Foods Inc., Springdale $37,444
Dillard's Inc., Little Rock $26,100*
Walmart Inc., Bentonville $20,942
Murphy USA Inc., El Dorado $16,852**
*Identified as a “full-time store associate”
**Identified as a “part-time store employee”

Sources: Proxy statements filed with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission. P.A.M. Transport Inc. of Tontitown and Inuvo Inc. of Little Rock are identified as “smaller reporting companies” exempt from the median compensation reporting requirement. BSR Real Estate Investment Trust of Little Rock is traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange and subject to different reporting requirements.

As the chart above shows, Arkansas’ publicly traded retailers reported the lowest median employee pay: Dillard’s, Walmart and Murphy USA. The highest median pay was again at ArcBest Corp. of Fort Smith, the parent company of ABF Freight, which has a collective bargaining contract with the Teamsters union. But even ArcBest’s chart-topping $90,310 median pay for 2020 was dramatically lower than it was in 2019, when it was more than $153,000 — a casualty of COVID-19 cost-cutting.