Walmart remains in full blown communications mode, and next week it rolls out the big gun when president and CEO Mike Duke is scheduled to participate in the Barclays Capital 2011 Retail and Restaurants Conference at 1 p.m. EST on Tuesday, April 26.
Duke’s appearance comes just a few days before the end of the first quarter, so don’t count on gleaning any insights into Walmart’s current performance from his comments. Walmart doesn’t do guidance updates, and with first quarter results scheduled for release just a few weeks later on May 17 it isn’t likely to start now.
Instead, investors able to attend the live event or those listening via webcast are likely to get a heavy dose of broad brush strokes about an ongoing commitment to growth, leverage and returns, a renewed emphasis on EDLP and U.S. same-store sales and the state of the consumer. However, Walmart knows investors who participate in such conferences expect more than what they could get from reading the companies annual report, so here’s hoping he sheds some light on the timing of the opening of the first Walmart Express stores or the significance of this week’s acquisition of the social media company Kosmix.
Duke’s participation in the event rounds out a busy spring season of appearances at investors events and other conferences by Walmart’s top executives. March was a particularly busy month, with Walmart international president and CEO Doug McMillon hosting an investor conference in Shenzhen, China, that followed Walmart U.S. president and CEO Bill Simon’s participation at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Consumer Conference on March 10 and Sam’s Club president and CEO Brian Cornell’s appearance at the Raymond James Institutional Investor conference on March 8.
In addition to those events, other company officers have been hitting the road as well, making it seem at times as if Walmart executives are accepting most of the speaking requests that come their way. This week three Sam’s executives, Jill Turner Mitchael, SVP health and wellness; Catherine Corley, VP member program development and Marty Hogan, senior director of marketing, spoke at a Doing Business in Bentonville Event. Last week, Pete LaFond, Walmart marketing director of online media and Smart Network was on the program at the Shopper Marketing Summit in Chicago April 12 to 14, and the week before that Walmart EVP global ecommerce Raul Vasquez was on the program at the University of Arizona Global Retailing Conference held April 7 to 8, in Tucson, Ariz. Back on March 17, Walmart SVP transportation, Chris Sultemeier, and senior director of trade strategy Angela Hoffman were on the program for a one day seminar put on by the Supply Chain Management Research Center at the Sam M. Walton College of Business.
Up next is Walmart U.S. central president Mike Moore, who will be speaking at an event on April 28 hosted by the Bentonville Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce. After that, on May 12, Walmart SVP marketing Tony Rogers is scheduled to speak at an event called SHOP that is hosted by the Center for Retailing Excellence at the University of Arkansas Sam M. Walton College of Business. Rogers is scheduled to speak again May 18 at a Doing Business in Bentonville event. He is followed by Dr. John Agwunobi, president of Walmart’s health and wellness division, who is schedule to speak May 26 at a Bentonville Bella Vista chamber event.
That brings Walmart up to its June 3 shareholders meeting and additional meetings with the media and financial community.