It’s all relative on the global stage

Walmart president and CEO Mike Duke frequently asserts no other global retailer is better positioned than Walmart, and it is easy to see why he holds that view especially when compared with the situation at the world’s second largest retailer.

France’s Carrefour this week reported disappointing 2011 financial results and said it would curtail investment in new and existing stores while cutting its dividend in half to 0.52 Euros from 1.08 Euros. To put that decrease in perspective, recall last week that Walmart investors were underwhelmed when the company wasn’t more generous with its cash and said its 2012 annual payout would increase only 9% to $1.59.

Meanwhile, not only did Carrefour halve its dividend, investors were left staring at a string of other negative numbers as operating profit and net income also declined on sales that rose a meager 0.9% to 81.3 billion Euros. Carrefour’s biggest problem is its exposure to European markets that are slow growing even in the best of times. The company derives 72% of its sales from its home country of France and other European nation’s where 52% of its 3,582 stores are located.

Walmart may not be setting the world on fire in terms of exponential percentage increases over prior year figures, but compared to Carrefour’s woeful performance it looks mighty good.


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