Wal-Mart Stores Inc. - Shareholder/Analyst Call

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (WMT)

April 12, 2012 7:45 am ET


Carol Schumacher - Vice President of Investor Relations

C. Douglas McMillon - Executive Vice President, Chief Executive Officer of Walmart International and President of Walmart International

Catherine R. Smith - Chief Financial Officer

David Cheesewright - Executive Vice President, Chief Executive Officer of Asda and President of Asda

Judith McKenna - Chief Finance Officer and Chief Operating Officer

Shelley G. Broader - Chief Executive Officer and President

Bill Tofflemire -

Jim Thompson - Chief Operating Officer

Gino DiGioacchino -

Trudy Fahie -

Bob Hakeem -

William S. Simon - Executive Vice President, Chief Executive Officer of Walmart U S and President of Walmart U S


Robert S. Drbul - Barclays Capital, Research Division

Gregory S. Melich - ISI Group Inc., Research Division

Deborah L. Weinswig - Citigroup Inc, Research Division

Craig Johnson

John Heinbockel - Guggenheim Securities, LLC, Research Division

Mark Wiltamuth - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Wayne L. Hood - BMO Capital Markets U.S.

Unknown Analyst

Colin McGranahan - Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., LLC., Research Division

Michael Exstein - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division

David S. Strasser - Janney Montgomery Scott LLC, Research Division

Charles X. Grom - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

Christopher Horvers - JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division

Margaret Gilliam


Carol Schumacher

Good morning. I'm Carol Schumacher. I'm with Walmart Investor Relations. And on behalf of the entire Walmart team, both the corporation and Walmart Canada, we welcome you into our meeting. This is our International Conference for the Investment Community. And as you know, the purpose of this meeting is to do a really deep dive into one of our countries so that you will have the opportunity to learn much more about the business and to be able to meet with the management team running that business.

For those of you who are here live in the meeting with us, we will be handing out hard copies of the slides for easy notetaking. Also remember, at the end of the meeting, that we'll be giving those who are here a USB drive with copies of the presentations, the information you'll be getting on the store tours as well as a lot of other information about Walmart Canada, so make sure that you pick that up before you leave.

I'd also like to mention that we recognize the importance of our French citizens here in Canada. And for those of you who do feel more comfortable hearing the meeting in French, at the back room, you will see -- at the back of the room, you will see a tan booth. And we do have translators who will be providing a complete translation of the meeting in French. So if you'd like to hear everything that's being said, please step back. We have headsets available and you're welcome to use those during the meeting.

For those of you listening in on the webcast, we will have French translations of the audio available as well. They will be put into MP3 pods, if you will, as we do with the English audio tracks as well after the meeting. We do archive all the presentations, both the video presentation that you're going to see on the meeting as well as the audio tracks, and we do provide a complete transcript of the meeting within 24 hours of that, so those will be available. Everything is archived on our website, that's walmartstores.com/investors.

I'd also like to point out a couple upcoming dates that are very important in the IR world, and that is certainly -- as you know, we closed FY '12 last year. We announced those results back in February. Our first quarter will be announced on May 17. One of the things that we've done this year is we pushed our earnings schedule from what was last year a Tuesday to this year a Thursday, so all of our dates are on Thursday this year. The next big event, and we will be opening registration for that event very shortly, is our Annual Shareholders Meeting. For those of you who have attended, you know that it's not only very educational but it's also extremely entertaining. This year will be especially important because we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the start of our company. Sam Walton opened the first store on July 2, 1962, in Rogers, Arkansas. And the fact that our Shareholders Meeting is June 1 really points to the fact that, over the past 50 years, we've been incredibly successful as a company. So if you have an opportunity to come to shareholders, you'll hear not only about some of that history, but you'll also hear a number of updates about our company in general.

Following that, the next big event for us would be Q2 earnings, and that would be Thursday -- I mean, yes, Q2, sorry. And that's going to be Thursday, August 16.

As we announced back in October, we are going to have our October meeting again in Bentonville, and that will October 9 and 10. It's a Tuesday and Wednesday. What I can tell you is that, at that point, we're getting close to the and of the year, so again you'll hear a little more information about our 50-year history. This year, I think a number of you have already asked about something that's very important locally in Bentonville, and that was the opening of Crystal Bridges, which is an incredible art museum that was funded and put together by Alice Walton. It's really put Bentonville on the map in terms of the art world. And I can tell you, having been there, it is truly an incredible experience. A number of you have asked if you're going to have an opportunity to visit there, and I can tell you that, yes, in October, we will be hosting dinner at Crystal Bridges. So if you want an opportunity not just to meet with management but to also be able to see Crystal Bridges, please plan on attending dinner, and that would be October 9 in Bentonville, Arkansas.

The next thing that I'd mention is that, as you can see as you mingle outside these doors, we have some merchandise. The merchandise is representative of what you're going to see on some of the store towards later on today. As I mentioned last night, we have 3 store tours that will be available to you after the presentations and they will run through the afternoon. We have an Urban 90 proto, which is a 90,000-square-foot Supercenter in -- built for more urban areas. We have an inbox conversion, and that's our lingo for meaning that we turned what used to be a discount store into a Supercenter without changing the 4 outside walls. And then, you'll see a very new Supercenter in an area that is truly experiencing tremendous real estate growth. So you'll have an understanding truly of how we focus on the various communities, like we do in all the countries that we do operate in. If you could click to the next like, please.

This is the overview of our agenda today. We're going to kick off with an update on our international business from our CEO, Doug MacMillan, and Cathy Smith, our CFO, for Walmart International. That'll be followed by an update on EMEA and that includes Europe and Africa. And as you know, we made the acquisition of Massmart and have been integrating that into our overall business during the last several months. We'll have a Q&A at that point on the international business before we get into the detailed presentations on Walmart Canada.

After those presentations, we're taking a break. And remember that you signed up, for those of you who are here, for 2 breakout sessions. We are actually running 3 breakout sessions. And on the screen, you see the various topics. On the back of your badge, for those of you who are here, it's a reminder of the breakout sessions that you signed up for. And we ask, given some of the room constraints that we have in the other 2 rooms, that you attend the breakout sessions that you signed up for. We will be webcasting live 2 of those sessions. The third one is going to be taped and that will be posted and available on our website as well. We will provide transcripts in about 24 hours for all of the breakout sessions, too. And then as I mentioned, the store tours will run in the afternoon. So I think you can see that we have a great line-up and a great opportunity for you to learn more about Walmart Canada.

The last thing that I'd mention before we get started is, at the end of the hallway where I'm pointing, there's also a booth that has a couple of demos. We're getting ready to launch our Shareholder Meeting materials, which include the annual report and the proxy and the ability to, of course, vote your shares at our annual meeting.

Very shortly, we'll be launching a new app. We believe in the impact of technology. As you know, we're also a company very committed to sustainability, and we're going to be very focused on trying to get more people to vote electronically. And we feel that the app, when it becomes available during the voting season, will give us that opportunity. We will have options both in the Apple format as well as the Android format and we will make it available for both iPads and iPhones. So that's coming in the very near future. So as you get ready to vote, please think about voting electronically. In IR, we believe too, just like we do throughout the business, in EDLC, and electronic voting certainly helps our cost structure, much more than printing voting. So that's my little commercial message for this morning.

And with that, if you go to the next slide, certainly while legal would want me to read the entire thing, that would be way too boring, but you know that there is a good chance we might be making forward-looking statements at this meeting. And as you know, our statement on here talks about that and reflects the fact that you can find additional information about our company on our website. And once again, that's walmartstores.com, under the Investor tab.

And with that, we'd like to get underway. And I'm going to kick it off to Doug McMillon, Walmart International's CEO. Doug?

C. Douglas McMillon

Good morning, everybody. Thank you, Carol. We appreciate you taking the time to be here, investing your time to make the trip and to learn more about the business. You're going to have a good time today and you're going to learn a lot about our business. We have a talented team here. Not only Dave Cheesewright, Shelley Broader but the entire management team is deep, very capable and they're fun to work with. And I know some of you got to spend time at the dinner tables with each other last night and you experienced that, and you'll get some more of that as we go through the stores today. So we really appreciate you being here.

I think Walmart's in a good place. We've gotten the year kicked off. And if I look at what's happening across all of our business, international included, it feels to me like we're well positioned to have a good year this year. And for the next few minutes, what I'm going to try to do along with Cathy is to give you an update on what's happening in the business, what we've learned about our business and what we're doing to improve it further.

You know the markets that we're in, I'm sure. In international, we serve 94 million customers a week or 94 million transactions a week in the markets outside the United States, finished last year just a little short of $126 billion in sales and getting near 6,000 units.

With today's time, we've broken the outline down to these 3 pieces: growth, leverage and returns. And we've heard from you and everyone else involved in our business about the importance of growing returns within the international division as we grow sales. And we've got a path and a plan that's working to do that and I'm going to tell you some more about that as we go through each one of these pieces. And we'll start with growth.

When we think about growth in international, we break it into 4 pieces. The first one, I feel, is the most important, and that is comp store sales. And we drive comp store sales in a lot of different ways. We've got merchants in every market making decisions about the items we carry and the prices on those items, great merchants who are learning and growing around the world as we serve customers. EDLP is another priority as it relates to driving comp store sales. And I feel like comp store sales are the #1 metric that we should be evaluating ourselves on in international and will enable us to further grow returns and deliver on the rest of our financial objectives.

The second key is new stores. Here, we've got a representation of how it splits out by region. You'll note that Latin America's 46% of our new square footage this year, with a lot of that coming out of Mexico and Central America.

And the third dimension of growth is eCommerce, and I'll spend some time giving you an update on what's happening in eCommerce in international. And then the fourth one is acquisitions, and we'll also talk about that.

If you work within Walmart International, you would know this diagram as the Walmart way of working. I'm going to try to explain why this is important to us within Walmart International. There are things that need to be unique in each market. If you would imagine yourself being responsible for running Walmart in Argentina or Chile or in India, you as that leader need to be able to move with speed, serve customers, provide relevance, run your business. We want you, Walmart wants you as that country president to be an entrepreneur. We want you to make decisions. We want you to move with speed. We don't want a lot of bureaucracy. Some might call that freedom. And in the past, within international, we've used the phrase called "freedom within a framework." And as I moved into this role, which has now been over 3 years, I'm in my fourth year now, and asked what could I do to help make it, this business, run more effectively -- the leaders around the world said we like the freedom but we don't get as much benefit of being part of Walmart as we'd like. We had leaned into the freedom side of things in such a way that they weren't getting all that benefit. So over the years, we've had a lot of discussions as a leadership team and its landed on this image, which for us calls out where we should have commonality, where should we be the same: What is Walmart's secret formula? And I personally have learned a lot about this in the last few years and why it's important and how it works.

Start in the center and think about our purpose. Our purpose is to save people money so they can live better. That gets me up in the morning, gets me excited, when I think about emerging market consumer in South Africa or how our customer needs us in China to provide them food that's safe and products that's of value. That gets me excited emotionally to help serve those customers with that mission, and that's true of most of our associates around the world. That's -- that gets us fired up.

Outside of our purpose, that lighter blue ring, relates to how we treat each other. That's our organizational culture. And that is an engine that drives results. When a store associate is alone with a customer, we want that customer to be treated with respect, to be served. We want that customer to experience excellence with that associate. So this important organizational culture issue is one that we spend a lot of time talking on about because, in the end, what we want are associates who are engaged and serve customers in a great way: picking up the trash when nobody's looking, grabbing the shopping cart when they're coming in from the parking lot. Our business is a people business. It always has been and it always will be.

But this outer ring is where it really got interesting: common operating principles. And Dave Cheesewright can tell you a lot of debate over the last year or 2 to hone in on what we think those common operating principles need to be. Being merchandise driven and being EDLP drives comp store sales. So said another way, if we don't have the Walmart operating model, which is what's represented here on this page, we will not deliver comp store sales growth to the extent that we're capable of and we won't deliver returns because we don't actually have the Walmart operating model. And because we had leaned so far towards freedom with some of our international markets, to give them autonomy, to move with speed and, in some cases, acquisitions, [indiscernible] that had different organizational cultures in them. We haven't always enforced this Walmart operating model. And what I'm happy about and proud about is that we don't have to enforce this operating model today because it's well understood and embraced, and our teams around the world are working towards executing it, including EDLP, being merchandising driven to drive comp store sales. And I'll spend some time on some of these other dimensions as we go through the rest of the presentation.

Still staying on the subject of comp sales. Every Day Low Price, as a business model, as a business philosophy, drives our results. And we don't have all of our markets practicing EDLP. We still have markets that are practicing high-low advertising and driving costs into the system that don't allow us to generate the returns that we will deliver. So over on this side, while it's a bit of a generalization and EDLP is more like a continuum than necessarily these 3 buckets or groups, I think these are fairly characterized in where they're located.

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