Walmart Needs to Get Growing Again

by Alyssa Oursler | August 2, 2013 12:40 pm

Blue-chip stock Walmart (WMT[1]) might be huge, but its recent performance seems to suggest that size isn’t everything.

So far in 2013, the do-it-all retailer is trailing the broader S&P 500 by 4 percentage points, and falling behind rival Target (TGT[2]) by even more. In the past year, the picture is even uglier — Walmart has recorded an unimpressive 5% gain during the past 52 weeks, all while the market has climbed 25%.

And it’s not just that Walmart’s giant scale doesn’t seem to be helping it; lately, it actually seems to be hurting it.

The retailer’s annual growth for the next five years is expected to lag its rate from the past five. This year’s expected earnings growth is a snooze-worthy 5.6%. Of course, considering 90% of the U.S. population already lives within 15 miles of a Walmart location, finding places to squeeze in new ones isn’t easy.

Plus, in locations where the big-box store is notably absent, that’s often for a reason[3]. Just consider the recent turn of events in the District of Columbia. Walmart threatened to cancel three new stores it had planned in D.C. if the city passed the “Large Retailer Accountability Act,” requiring higher pay for big-box employees.

The city shrugged and passed the bill anyways — “just the latest example of Walmart’s trouble penetrating the urban territory it needs to conquer,” as The Daily Beast[4] put it.

The good news, though, is that big-time growth across the seas in India — a country that boasts more than 1 billion potential consumers — might be just around the corner.

Walmart has been working to roll out stores in the country since last September, when India passed retail reforms. Newly loosened rules were announced today[5], though, and that could get the ball rolling a little faster.

WMT investors are sure hoping so.

As of this writing, Alyssa Oursler did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

  1. WMT:
  2. TGT:
  3. that’s often for a reason:
  4. The Daily Beast:
  5. Newly loosened rules were announced today:

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