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Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said at its 41st annual meeting of shareholders last week that its board of directors had approved a new program authorizing the mega-retailer to repurchase $15 billion of its shares. This program replaces the previous $15 billion program, revealed on June 4, 2010, that had about $2 billion of remaining authorization. Under this program, repurchased shares are constructively retired and returned to unissued status.
“Our purchase of almost $13 billion of Walmart stock since last June is indicative of our strong free cash flow position,” noted Charles Holley, EVP and CFO at the Bentonville, Ark.-based company, which operates more than 9,000 retail units under 60 banners in 15 countries and reported fiscal year 2011 sales of $419 billion
Through June 2, under the 2010 authorization, Walmart had spent more than $12.9 billion to repurchase more than 244 million shares. As well as continuing the share repurchase program, the company upped the current fiscal year dividend per share by around 21 percent to $1.46, from $1.21 in fiscal 2011, and during the first quarter of this year, the company distributed $1.3 billion in dividends.
“The combination of our annual dividend and share repurchase program indicates the strength of our company and its commitment to returning value to Walmart shareholders,” continued Holley. “Walmart has increased its dividend every year since March of 1974, when we began paying a dividend of 5 cents per share.”