Global giant Walmart Stores (WMT) is the dominant discount and general retailer in the United States, and it has a substantial presence and successful position among British, South American and Chinese retailers of its type. Its signature store format is the supercenter, which offers a wide selection of clothing, household appliances and electronics, tools, home and garden supplies, and sporting goods among the categories of value-priced merchandise that are its specialty. Walmart Stores operates 8,838 retail units across 15 countries and has a worldwide staff of 2.1 million. The stock price of WMT has remained within a relatively stable band of 44.77 - 56.27 over the past 52 weeks and it currently trades about one-and-a-half points below its high. Wal-Mart Stores showed global sales of $405 billion in 2010, and it posted earnings per share of $1.17 in 4Q2010. The global giant has recently made an offer for a majority share of a major South African retailer.
Wal-Mart Stores was founded in 1962 by Sam Walton, whose family still controls a sizeable portion of Walmart stock. Its roots were a five-and-dime franchise in Bentonville, Arkansas, where Wal-Mart Stores is still headquartered. Walton pioneered his retailing strategy by increasing sales through lower markups, and his success led him to open his first "Wal-Mart Discount City" in Rogers, Arkansas. By 1967, a mere five years after Sam Walton opened his initial store under the Walmart banner, Wal-Mart had expanded to a 24 unit chain with stores throughout Arkansas. 1968 marked the opening of stores in Missouri and Oklahoma, in small towns that were underserved by other chain retailers. As Walmart grew, its founder realized that communications were the key to success, and just as he stressed friendly communications with customers, he invested in a satellite system to link each Wal-Mart store to the head office for efficiency in management and stock tracking. Sam Walton stepped down from his position of CEO in 1988, and David Glass then began to lead Wal-Mart's rapid expansion. They continue to expand and to maintain its position as the largest company in the United States and Walmart stock price is today considered a steady investment.