Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) was founded in 1962, in Rogers, Arkansas, by Sam Walton. Since its humble beginnings as a regional discount retailer, it has become an American multinational retail company with over 11,000 retail locations and 2.2 million employees across the globe. If you had purchased 100 shares of Wal-Mart Stores on Oct. 1, 1970, at its initial public offering (IPO) price per share, after stock splits, your investment would be worth over $12 million. Moreover, you would have received an annual dividend of over $400,000 for the fiscal year ending in December 2015.
The Story of Wal-Mart Stores
Sam Walton opened his first discount retailer, Walton's Five and Dime, in 1950 on 105 N. Main Street in Bentonville, Arkansas. After the success of his first store, he opened the first Wal-Mart on July 2, 1962. By 1967, Wal-Mart had 24 locations with $12.6 million in sales. On Wal-Mart's 25th anniversary, it had 1,198 stores with total sales of $15.9 billion and 200,000 employees. Three years later, Wal-Mart Stores surpassed its competitors to become the nation's largest retailer. It had sales of $32.6 billion in 1990, which outpaced its competitor Kmart Corp.
Wal-Mart Stores Initial Public Offering and Stock Splits
Wal-Mart Stores was incorporated on Oct. 31, 1969, and offered 300,000 shares of its common stock at $16.50 per share during its IPO. If you were lucky enough to purchase just 100 shares at $16.50 per share, you would have only paid $1,650. Wal-Mart's common stock began trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Aug. 25, 1972.
Wal-Mart has had 11 two-for-one stock splits since its IPO. A stock split is a corporate action in which a company increases its amount of shares while simultaneously decreasing its market price. Wal-Mart distributed its first two-for-one stock split in 1971 when it traded at $47 per share. Therefore, if you purchased 100 shares, you would have had 200 shares at a price of $23.50 per share after the stock split.
Wal-Mart issued 10 more two-for-one stock splits thereafter. As of 2015, its most recent two-for-one stock occurred in April 1999 when it was trading at $89.75 per share. Previous to this stock split, you would have owned 102,400 shares at a price of $89.75. After Wal-Mart distributed its 11th two-for-one stock split, you would have owned 204,800 shares of Wal-Mart's common stock with a cost basis of 81 cents per share. Therefore, the market value of your investment would have remained at $9.19 million after this stock split.
Wal-Mart Stores Market Value in 2015 and Dividend Payments
At the open of the market on Oct. 22, 2015, Wal-Mart Stores began trading at $58.94 per share. Therefore, those 204,800 shares you would have had would be worth $12.07 million at the open. The success of this investment has been primarily due to the multiple stock splits Wal-Mart has experienced. Although its stock splits may have seemed uneventful, stock prices generally reclaim their previous highs and often exceed them. If Wal-Mart never split its stock, it would have been trading at an extremely high market price per share, and therefore, it would have scared off the average investor. Moreover, you would have only owned 100 shares of Wal-Mart, if you did not add to the investment.
Wal-Mart is included in the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats, an exclusive group of dividend-paying stocks. S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats are companies that have increased their dividend payments for 25 consecutive years and are included in the S&P 500 Index. Wal-Mart has paid a dividend since 1975 and has increased its dividend for 40 years. Additionally, as of Oct. 22, 2015, it has a dividend yield of 3.33% and a quarterly dividend rate of 49 cents.
Therefore, after every quarterly dividend payment for 2015, you would have received $100,352, or $401,408 on an annualized basis. Since Wal-Mart is a Dividend Aristocrat and has a high dividend coverage ratio, it is likely to continue increasing its dividend payment. Consequently, your annual dividend payments would have continued to increase. Based on analysts' estimates, Wal-Mart should have a dividend payout ratio of 43.8% at the end of the 2015 fiscal year.