Over the past several months, Wal-Mart's (WMT) stock has not enjoyed the same momentum shared by many of its retail peers. Wal-Mart, which closed around $56 per share on January 21, is up 12.3% since the end of August. That performance pales in comparison to the S&P Retail Index's astonishing 27.1% jump during the same period. Sluggish U.S. results have certainly played a role in weighing down Wal-Mart's stock price, as a weakened basic-needs consumer, and increased competition from dollar stores, have led to six consecutive quarters of same-store sales declines and only nominal operating margin expansion. However, we believe Wal-Mart's domestic troubles may be distracting from what could be one of retailing's more significant international growth stories.
Although we anticipate U.S. issues will eventually be resolved through merchandise mix adjustments and new store formats, Wal-Mart's international operations will likely be the company's primary growth engine going forward. This segment represents approximately 25% of Wal-Mart's revenue, and 21% of its operating income, and we expect it to average nearly 9% revenue growth annually, and generate more than one third of overall revenue over the next decade, compared with just above inflationary growth domestically (combining Wal-Mart U.S. and Sam's Club). Additionally, these estimates could prove to be conservative, as Wal-Mart has established footholds in several rapidly developing economies across the globe.
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R.J. Hottovy does not own shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.