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Top Stockholders in Arkansas Buoyed by Runup in Markets

3 min read

Sam Walton’s heirs are so rich.

How rich are they?

They’re so rich that his 33-year-old grandson Lukas Walton owns $1.5 billion worth of stock in a company that isn’t Walmart. And his personal net worth, estimated at $17.1 billion last week by Forbes, is only about a tenth of the family’s fortune.

It’s been almost two years since Arkansas Business listed the state’s top stockholders based on the value of publicly disclosed stock. Since then, the Walton family’s fortune — the part disclosed publicly — has increased by more than $20 billion. It remains the world’s greatest private family fortune, while Jeff Bezos, the founder of Walmart’s arch-nemesis Amazon, is the world’s richest individual.

Lukas Walton is the only child of Sam’s son John, who died in a small plane crash in 2005. He inherited his father’s stake in First Solar Inc. of Tempe, Arizona, a manufacturer of solar electric generating panels that went public in 2006. Since then, the value of First Solar stock has varied wildly — from more than $300 a share in 2008 to less than $12 in 2012. It closed at $66.63 on Aug. 2, the valuation date for all stocks on this week’s list.

Meanwhile, Walmart stock reached its all-time high last month, trading above $115 at times before settling back in the $105-$110 range. The Waltons hold more than 1.4 billion shares in Walmart, listed under the names of Sam’s surviving children, Jim, Rob and Alice, and a grandson-in-law, Greg Penner. Each share generated $2.08 in dividends last year — roughly $3 billion.

Two other Arkansas families also have publicly disclosed stock holdings valued in the billions: the heirs of Don Tyson, worth about $5.8 billion, and the J.B. Hunt family, about $1.8 billion as the trucking company the late Mr. Hunt founded has had a rollercoaster year of trading.

The Tyson fortune is built on stock in Tyson Foods Inc. of Springdale, the chicken and meat conglomerate. Its stock has been trading at all-time highs in recent weeks. Each of the Tyson family’s 73 million shares generated $1.28 in dividends.

Rounding out the top five are the heirs of Charles Murphy, who own major interests in Murphy Oil Corp. and Murphy USA Inc., both of El Dorado, and PotlatchDeltic, the Spokane, Washington, corporation that acquired Murphy Oil spinoff Deltic Timber in February 2018; and the heirs of William T. Dillard, founder of Dillard’s Inc. of Little Rock.

The List

The U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission 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 information included in Arkansas Business’ annual list is gleaned from corporate proxy statements and Forms 3, 4 and 5 filed with the SEC.

Unless otherwise noted, the shares are deemed by the SEC to be owned outright by the person or family listed.

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