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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of Walmart Stores (WMT) - Get Walmart Inc. Report are slipping, down 2.67% to $83.99 in early market trading Thursday, after company CEO Doug McMillon announced that hourly associates will earn at least $10 per hour by February of 2016, as part of the mega retailer's new initiative on pay and training for U.S. associates.

Walmart employs about 500,000 full-time and part-time associates in its U.S. stores and Sam's Clubs. The workers will receive pay raises in the first half of the current fiscal year.

The initiative makes sure that Walmart hourly associates earn at least $1.75 above the current federal minimum wage, which means they will earn $9 per hour in April, and $10 per hour in February the following year.

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Also, Walmart said that along with the Walmart Foundation, it committed $100 million over five years to help increase the economic mobility for entry level workers by advancing their careers.

The initiative comes as the world's largest retailer reported a better than expected fourth quarter earnings, helped by the lower gas prices putting more money in its customers' pockets.

For the quarter, Walmart earned $1.58 per share, above the $1.53 per share analysts expected. Revenue came in at $131.57 billion for the quarter, also topping the $132.35 billion analysts expected.

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The company has long been criticized for its low hourly pay and employee benefits, according to Reuters.

Bentonville, AR-based Walmart Stores operates retail and other stores in various formats, including membership clubs. The company operates through three business segments which consists of Walmart U.S., Walmart International and Sam's Club.

Separately, TheStreet Ratings team rates WAL-MART STORES INC as a Buy with a ratings score of A-. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate WAL-MART STORES INC (WMT) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, increase in stock price during the past year, reasonable valuation levels, good cash flow from operations and growth in earnings per share. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income."

WMT data by YCharts

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