Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

A Foolish Take: The Chart That Defines Wal-Mart

By John Maxfield – May 15, 2017 at 12:00PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Here's what makes Wal-Mart unique.

Every company has a chart that defines it.

The chart for Apple (AAPL 2.44%), for instance, would show iPhone sales -- their trend or the evolving share of revenue they account for. After all, the iPhone has made Apple the most valuable company in the world.

That's what a defining chart is. It reflects the core or unique quality that's most responsible for a company's success.

Few are more striking than Wal-Mart's (WMT -1.33%) defining chart. It compares the annual revenue of Wal-Mart to other large companies -- say, those on the S&P 500, which tracks the leading companies in the United States.

A bar chart showing the five companies with the highest revenues on the S&P 500

Data source: YCharts.com. Chart by author.

Despite the enormous size of these other companies, most of which have higher market caps than Wal-Mart, their annual revenues pale in comparison to the Arkansas-based retailer's.

Wal-Mart's revenue over the last 12 months adds up to $486 billion. That's more than twice Apple's total revenue -- which, not to belabor the point, is the most valuable company in America.

It's this stark contrast between sales and value that reflects Wal-Mart's core business model: Selling lots of stuff at everyday low prices.

Offer from The Motley Fool: The 10 best stocks to buy now
Motley Fool co-founders Tom and David Gardner have spent more than a decade beating the market. In fact, the newsletter they run, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the S&P 500!*

Tom and David just revealed their ten top stock picks for investors to buy right now.

Click here to get access to the full list!

*Stock Advisor returns as of 5/1/2017.

John Maxfield has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.