Wal-Mart sets new $15 billion repurchase plan

Fri Jun 4, 2010 11:46am EDT
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By Brad Dorfman

FAYETTEVILLE, Arkansas (Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc announced a new $15 billion share repurchase plan at its annual meeting on Friday, as shareholders look for greater returns from the world's largest retailer.

The new program comes after the company repurchased about $10 billion in shares over the past year, Chief Financial Officer Tom Schoewe said during the company's annual shareholder meeting/company pep rally at the University of Arkansas basketball arena.

Earlier this year, Wal-Mart raised its annual dividend by 11 percent.

Even though the company's U.S. sales have been sluggish amid high unemployment and gasoline prices, it has still generated strong cash flow, reaching about $14 billion in its latest fiscal year. Strong international sales and a focus on reining in expenses have helped.

Among the 16,000 people gathered on Friday at the arena were shareholders hoping for more cash and employees looking for big-name entertainment and pep-rally motivation.

They got both. The meeting was hosted by Oscar-winning actor Jamie Foxx and featured musical performances by the likes of Mary J Blige, Enrique Iglesias and Mariah Carey.

Foxx started with a song that celebrated Walmart's price rollbacks and then went into an impersonation of American musician Ray Charles, whom Foxx played in a biopic.

In a video that introduced Foxx, he looked for his movies in a Walmart video section, while in the cosmetics department, he pointed to makeup ads that featured female co-stars he has kissed on the screen.   Continued...

<p>Walmart International's President and CEO Doug McMillon speaks to reporters in Rogers, Arkansas June 3, 2010. REUTERS/Sarah Conard</p>