Walmart (NYSE:WMT) is the world's biggest retailer and the world's biggest company by revenue.
The superstore chain is set to bring in more than $550 billion in revenue in 2020, benefiting from pandemic-related tailwinds that have lifted sales in groceries and e-commerce.
After struggling for much of the 21st century, the stock has emerged as a winner in recent years, and shares are up 120% over the last five years. But can the stock make you a millionaire? Let's take a look at what Walmart has to offer investors today.
A new Walmart
Under CEO Doug McMillion, Walmart has reinvented itself, shifting its focus from traditional brick-and-mortar retail and land-grab expansion to one focused on e-commerce and international growth markets like India and China.
The company has also shifted from its historical bare-bones spending philosophy to invest in core components of the business like store remodels, higher wages, and adding grocery pickup for online orders, a key driver of the company's growth in recent years. Competing directly with Amazon, Walmart has sought to use its stores as leverage, driving customers to pick up orders directly from stores and using its stores for order fulfillment. The company also launched a new membership program, Walmart+, with some similar benefits to Amazon Prime, offering free next-day delivery with no order minimum and discounts on fuel. The retailer is also aiming to build out its e-commerce marketplace, partnering with Shopify recently to add vendors to the platform, and has also teamed up with The Trade Desk to build out its ads business, an area where Amazon has seen strong growth in recent years.
Overall, those moves are paying off. Walmart has now delivered an impressive 25 straight quarters of comparable sales growth at Walmart U.S., showing steady growth in the business and a strong response from its customer base. In recent quarters, pandemic-related demand has led to a bump in sales and profits.
Meanwhile, the company is also redirecting its investments abroad, pulling out of markets it's struggled in like Brazil and the U.K. It's investing in high-growth markets like India, where it took a majority stake in Flipkart, the leading e-commerce company there, and in China, where it took a 5% stake in JD.com, a fast-growing e-commerce company.
The key numbers
Though the company has put up consistent comparable sales growth in recent years, Walmart is still a slow-growth, mature company. It's essentially stopped opening stores in the U.S., its biggest market, and is looking to e-commerce to fuel growth. Over the last five years, its revenue has increased by only 13%. Over the same time interval, its operating income has fallen slightly as the company has invested in store improvements and e-commerce, investments that should eventually pay off.
Walmart's price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio has expanded over the last five years, but the stock still looks affordable at a P/E of 26.7, which is less than that of the S&P 500 at 40.
Finally, Walmart pays a dividend yield of 1.5% and is a Dividend Aristocrat, having raised its dividend every year for nearly 50 years. As an income stock, Walmart is as reliable as they come.
Is it a millionaire-maker stock?
Walmart has made a number of smart moves to prepare for the ongoing shift in retail to e-commerce, but the company is so big that it will be hard for it to deliver the kind of wealth-generating growth that can be truly life-changing for investors. While it has a number of competitive advantages, including its economies of scale and reputation for low prices, its core business -- brick-and-mortar retail -- is still a slow-growth industry.
With its new strategy focused on e-commerce and the omnichannel, a hybrid of stores and e-commerce, the retail stock looks like a solid bet to outperform the S&P 500 and is a great choice for retirees looking for a safe, income-generating stock. However, Walmart stock is not going to deliver the kind of potential returns that you need to become a millionaire. There are better growth stock options if that's what you're looking for.