Jim Walton (from left), Alice Walton and Rob Walton talk on stage during the annual Wal-Mart shareholders meeting in June. Photo: Jason Ivester/The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette via APThe world’s richest family just got a little richer after Wal-Mart Stores, the world’s largest retailer, increased its earnings forecast.
Wal-Mart’s shares rose 1.9 percent on Thursday, boosting the Walton family’s net worth to $US127 billion ($165 billion), a 19 per cent increase since year-end. That’s more than the national GDP of Hungary.
By comparison, Amazon boss Jeff Bezos has seen his fortune rise 12 per cent in 2016 to $US67 billion. The Waltons collectively own 52 per cent of Wal-Mart.
The latest gains came after the retail giant ratcheted up its expectations for its full-year earnings growth after its second-quarter financial results surpassed forecasts. Its shares are up 21 percent year to date – marking a reversal from the nearly 30 per cent decline in 2015. Wal-Mart’s online sales growth started climbing again and executives struck a positive tone about how its efforts to pay its workers more and push down prices at its stores were attracting more shoppers.
Although there are still mounting troubles in Walmart’s UK operations, stores in its home market notched their eighth consecutive quarter of positive sales growth, standing out from retailers like Target and Macy’s, which lament stagnating sales and the increasing tendency for consumers to be persnickety with where they spend their money.
Since taking the helm in 2014, Wal-Mart boss Doug McMillon has cut prices and improved customer service while pouring money into online operations to stem shopper defections to Amazon.
The Waltons – Alice, Christy, Jim, Lukas and Rob Walton – are the world’s richest family. They’re ahead of Bill, Charles and David Koch, who have a combined $US106 billion fortune owning oil refining conglomerate Koch Industries, and Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his family, who control $US89 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index .
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