Walmart is scheduled to hold its annual shareholders’ meeting one week from today, and the event is a tale of two meetings. One the one hand, there is the pageantry and puffery of the actual shareholders meeting, which runs from 7 a.m. to about 11 a.m. central time. If the company holds true to form the event will be a high-energy, star-studded affair that is long on style and short on substance with a dollop of official business thrown in. The event is designed primarily for the thousands of employees who attend from throughout the U.S. and the world, or at least that has been the case in the past.
The meeting is entertaining to be sure, but fresh insight into how the company plans to create shareholder value traditionally has not been offered, although it is conceivable the company could announce a major new share repurchase program since an existing $15 billion authorization from the prior year is nearly exhausted.
However, the most substantive developments to come from the shareholders’ meeting don’t happen at the actual meeting but rather a separate meeting held later in the day for financial analysts. Senior executives use the event to provide what analysts refer to as, “color,” across a broad range of topics and it is also an opportunity for the financial types to ask a few questions since they don’t get to do so when company releases quarterly results and executives read a prepared transcript. The meeting for the investment community runs from 1:15 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and will feature presentations from Mike Duke, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Charles Holley, EVP and CFO of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Bill Simon, president and CEO of Walmart U.S., Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart International, Brian Cornell, president and CEO of Sam’s Club and Eduardo Castro-Wright, vice chairman, responsible for global e-commerce and global sourcing.