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‘Trump Bump’ Benefits Arkansas Stockholders

4 min read

The “Trump Bump” has been very good for most of the 120 names on this year’s list of the state’s biggest stockholders, but the benefits have not been evenly shared.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which includes Wal-Mart in its index of 30 major corporations, has increased by almost 25 percent since the surprise election of Donald Trump as president a year ago this week.

Get the List
The Top Stockholders in Arkansas list is  available for purchase. Includes value of stock, companies in which they have major holdings, number of shares and more, all orgainzed within a spreadsheet.

For the heirs of Sam Walton, the past year has been very good indeed. Stock in Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of Bentonville has increased in value by almost 26 percent — some $18 a share for a family that owns more than 1.5 billion shares. What’s more, an investment that Sam’s son John Walton made in First Solar Inc. of Tempe, Arizona, before his death in 2005 has also grown in value. The 22.5 million shares — specifically owned by John Walton’s only child, Lukas, since a reorganization of his inheritance in October 2016 — represented nearly 22 percent of the company at the time the proxy was issued in late March.

As of Oct. 27, the Friday close arbitrarily selected for this list, the shares were worth more than $1.1 billion.

The Walton family, most of whom live outside Arkansas, is in a class by itself, with reported public stock holdings worth more than $136 billion and dividend income from Wal-Mart of more than $3 billion a year.

Two other Arkansas fortunes are also valued in the billions: the heirs of Don Tyson, worth about $5.4 billion, and the J.B. Hunt family, $2 billion.

The Tyson fortune depends on the stock value of Tyson Foods Inc. of Springdale, which has rebounded to near its all-time high after a slump that lasted from the fall of 2016 till late summer.

J.B. Hunt is responsible for the No. 7 entry — director Wayne Garrison’s stock valued at $227 million.

Stock in J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. represents value of $158 million attributed to No. 10 Gary George, chairman of George’s Inc. of Springdale. But more than a third of that is owned by a family entity called C.L. George & Sons Ltd.

Other names synonymous with big business in Arkansas are also in the top 10: The heirs of Charles Murphy, who own major interests in Murphy Oil Corp., Murphy USA Inc. and Deltic Timber Corp., and the heirs of William Dillard, founder of the Dillard’s Inc. department store chain.

Deltic Timber will disappear from the list of Arkansas publicly traded companies after its announced acquisition by Potlatch Corp. is complete, but the Murphy family may still register as major shareholders.

George Gleason II, chairman and CEO of Bank of the Ozarks, and his wife, Linda, a director, have stock in the Little Rock bank worth almost $282 million, ranking No. 6 on the list.

Warren Stephens, owner of Stephens Inc., moved into the No. 8 spot thanks to a rebound in the value of stock in Conn’s Inc., a Houston retailer in which his cousins Witt Stephens Jr. and Elizabeth Campbell Stephens are also investors. (The Witt Stephens family is ranked No. 13.) Warren Stephens is also a director of Dillard’s Inc.

Completing the top 10 is No. 9 Rick Massey, chairman of Bear State Financial Inc. of Little Rock and a director of four other public companies. The $164 million in Bear State shares are owned by an investment group of which he is the managing member. The payout will be even higher when Bear State’s acquisition by the Walton-owned Arvest Bank is completed. (See Inside Bear State Bank’s $391 Million Sale.)

John Allison, the chairman of Home BancShares Inc. of Conway, dropped to No. 11 after Hurricane Irma beat up several of its Florida branches and its stock price, which is off by 25 percent since the spring.

Notable Names
Every entry on the list represents publicly disclosed stock that was worth $1 million or more on Oct. 27, and the stockholders — or at least some members of the family — are believed to live in Arkansas, at least part time.

That residency requirement has cut into the number of Acxiom Corp. executives ranked. No. 56 Jerry C. Jones, the chief ethics and legal officer, is believed to be the only Acxiom executive who resides in Arkansas. CEO Scott Howe of Seattle owns a condo in downtown Little Rock, where Acxiom was headquartered until returning to its roots in Conway earlier this year, and he is ranked at No. 20.

Jones — like Massey, William Dillard II and others — are members of the boards of directors of other companies, and their publicly disclosed holdings in those companies are included in their total stock value.

Howe was a director of Blue Nile Inc. of Seattle, a jewelry retailer that was acquired in February by Bain Capital Private Equity and Bow Street LLC. His shares in Blue Nile were valued at about $500,000.

Also scarce are executives from Windstream Holdings Inc. With Windstream stock languishing under $2 since discontinuing its dividend in August, only CEO Tony Thomas, No. 112, has enough publicly disclosed stock to reach the $1 million threshold.

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 percent 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.

(Correction: A previous version of this article identified Wayne Garrison as a director for Tyson Foods Inc. He is not. He is a director for J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. We have corrected the error.)

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