We had plenty of trouble selecting stocks for many of the states that make up the Real America Index. But Arkansas was a no-brainer with Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT).
Sam Walton’s modest 1962 retail enterprise that turned into a global powerhouse is one of America’s biggest entrepreneurial success stories. The big-box giant now is one of the largest companies in the world as measured by revenue or market capitalization.
Furthermore, Wal-Mart sales are a proxy for American consumer spending in general. Staples and discretionary sales are one of the biggest drivers of American GDP.
It’s also worth noting that many largely rural states in America’s heartland don’t boast massive corporate campuses with a big-name company setting up shop there. As a result, Wal-Mart often winds up in the top 10 “employers” in the state when you add up all the jobs at its various big-box stores. That’s certainly the case in Arkansas, where a large number of Wal-Mart employees boast an MBA and draw a paycheck at its Bentonville headquarters, but thousands more work the checkout aisle in trademark blue vests.
These are real jobs for real Arkansas residents, and real jobs in other states, too.
The University of Arkansas business school is named after Sam Walton, and the passing of his wife Helen in 2007 resulted in the bequest of billions of dollars to charitable efforts. It’s telling that the Walton Family Foundation boasts four areas of focus on its website: education, the environment, Northwest Arkansas and the Delta Region of Arkansas and Mississippi.
Wal-Mart is very much a part of the Arkansas economy, and an important representative on our Real America Index in the retail sector.
Check out the complete list of Real America Index components, along with an interactive map of short-term and long-term returns.
Jeff Reeves is editor of InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing, he did not own a position in any of the stocks named here. Follow him on Twitter via @JeffReevesIP and become a fan of InvestorPlace on Facebook.