Walmart Turns on the Charm

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In an announcement at the major U.S. retail trade show, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) has said that it will hire at least 100,000 U.S. military service veterans in the next five years and that the company will increase its purchases of U.S.-made goods by $50 over the next decade.

On the jobs front, Walmart will offer a job to any honorably discharged veteran who applies for one in the first year after active duty. The company typically has 15,000 to 50,000 jobs available at any one time.

On the buy-American front, $50 billion over a decade works out to an average of $5 billion a year. Walmart’s cost of sales in its last fiscal year topped $335 billion. Sure it’s better than nothing, but not by a lot.

Walmart has taken a lot of heat over a deadly fire in Bangladesh at a plant that made clothes for the company. Walmart has also been blasted for its low pay and work practices.

Investors are a little unsure what to make of the announcements. Walmart’s shares are up about 0.6% today at $68.68 in a 52-week range of $57.18 to $77.60. In reality, that’s probably about the right reaction, given the likely impact on the store’s costs from these announcements.

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