This excerpt taken from the WMT 8-K filed Feb 18, 2010.
Three Strategic Priorities Growth, Leverage and Returns
Walmarts exceptional earnings for the fourth quarter and the full year exceeded our expectations, said Mike Duke, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. president and chief executive officer. These results reflect the ongoing underlying strength of our business and our strategies to improve shareholder value through our priorities delivering growth, leveraging expenses and improving returns.
We successfully shifted the productivity loop into higher gear. The diligent way we managed our businesses and tight control of our costs resulted in the company leveraging operating expenses for the fourth quarter, Duke explained. We plan to grow expenses slower than the rate of sales in the new fiscal year.
The company added more than 34 million net square feet of selling space this year, with International contributing more than half of that growth, said Duke. We expect continued strong growth from International this fiscal year. U.S. sales will be more challenging in the first quarter, as Walmart U.S. cycles through strong year-over-year comparisons and deflation. We remain focused on growing top line sales, and expect improvement in the United States as the year progresses.
Walmart continues to generate strong free cash flow, reporting a record $14.1 billion in fiscal year 2010. This is an increase of almost 21 percent over the $11.6 billion reported in the prior year. Duke also noted that the company continued to deliver consistency in pre-tax returns, ending fiscal year 2010 with return on investment (ROI) of 19.3 percent, equal to last year.