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Arkansas’ Top Stockholders: 2020 Very Good for Walton Family Fortune

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Arkansas’ richest family has had a good year financially. The heirs of Sam Walton own publicly traded stock valued collectively at more than $205 billion.

Of that, $202 billion comes from Walmart stock alone, which has increased in value by about 27% in the past year. The Waltons and an investment fund they control also own enough stock in three other companies to be required to disclose those holdings: Brazilian credit-card processor StoneCo Ltd.; First Solar Inc. of Tempe, Arizona; and Oportun Financial Corp. of San Carlos, California.

GET THE LIST: Arkansas’ Top Stockholders

2020 has been less favorable for the family of Don Tyson. After a spectacular incline in 2019, stock in Tyson Foods Inc. of Springdale tumbled from the low $90s in January to the low $50s as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in March. It closed at $60.35 on Nov. 9, the Monday chosen for Arkansas Business’ annual snapshot of publicly disclosed stock holdings.

While the Tyson fortune — attributed in Securities & Exchange Commission filings to Chairman John Tyson and his uncle’s widow, Barbara Tyson — is not above $6 billion, as it was at the stock’s peak, at $4.4 billion it is the second-largest in Arkansas and almost twice that of the J.B. Hunt family’s.

Forbes magazine actually reverses the order of the Tyson and Hunt fortunes, crediting J.B. Hunt’s widow, Johnelle, with a net worth of $3.4 billion and John Tyson with $2.1 billion.

Forbes also estimates the net worth of Little Rock’s Warren Stephens at $2.6 billion, but his only publicly disclosed stock holding is about $8 million worth of Dillard’s Inc., where he is a director.

The heirs of William Dillard, founder of the department store chain, held stock valued at a combined $409 million as of Nov. 9. That was a fortuitous day for the calculation; Dillard’s stock improved by 14% compared with its close the previous Friday and had not closed that high again as of last Thursday.

The heirs of Charles Murphy have seen a dramatic shift in their family’s stock holdings. Murphy Oil Corp., which traded as high as $67 a share after the spinoff of its retail function as Murphy USA in 2013, closed at $8.68 on Nov. 9. Murphy USA, meanwhile, closed at $130.43 that day. It had traded at about $120 a year ago and peaked at $140 in August.

Murphy Oil, an iconic El Dorado company, announced in May that “the extraordinary drop in crude oil prices” had forced it to consolidate operations to an existing office in Houston, moving about 80 jobs in the process. Because Murphy Oil is no longer headquartered in Arkansas, executives who no longer work in El Dorado were not included in this week’s stockholder research.

The number of shares held by each person or family on the list comes from the SEC, which requires public disclosure of stock held by officers, directors and any person or entity that owns at least 5% of the outstanding shares of any publicly traded company. The published list includes every person or family whose disclosed holdings were valued at $1 million or more as of Nov. 9.

No entry on the list had disclosed holdings in more companies than No. 19 Richard N. “Rick” Massey of Little Rock, the former chairman of Bear State Financial Inc. of Little Rock. A longtime director of Fidelity National Financial Inc. of Jacksonville, Florida, and of its spinoff Black Knight Inc., Massey and Black Knight Chairman William P. Foley II this year created three publicly traded SPACs — special purpose acquisition corporations — called Cannae Holdings Inc., Foley Trasimene Acquisition Corp. and Foley Trasimene Acquisition Corp. II.

All three are headquartered in Las Vegas, and Massey is CEO of all three. He said they only employ about five people because their business is to invest stockholder money in promising businesses.

“We’ve found some companies and we’ve got them on the hook and we’re pulling them into the boat,” he said.

One of Cannae’s investment companies is 140-year-old Dun & Bradstreet, which Massey and Foley took private 2019, rehabilitated and took public again with a $1.7 billion initial public offering in July. “We’ve made three and a half times our money in a year and a half,” Massey said last week.

Keith Jackson of Little Rock is also a member of the Dun & Bradstreet board of directors.

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