CEO on the hot seat: Lee Scott, Wal-Mart
If Lee Scott can boost Wal-Mart's tarnished image, growth opportunities abound.
By Jon Birger and David Stires, FORTUNE

NEW YORK (FORTUNE Magazine) - Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott's mandate is simple -- and seemingly impossible: continue producing double-digit growth at a company that already boasts nearly a third of a trillion dollars in yearly sales.

To achieve 10 percent annual revenue growth, Wal-Mart needs to increase sales by $90 million every day. And employee lawsuits, union scuffles, and local opposition to new stores have turned Wal-Mart -- once regarded as a model corporate citizen -- into a media punching bag.

Opportunities

Smarter public relations should lead to fewer bruising battles over new stores -- particularly in California, still relatively untapped. Another growth market is Latin America; Wal- Mart has made recent acquisitions in Brazil and Central America.

Scott is targeting middle-class consumers by introducing more upscale product lines, such as high-thread-count sheets.

Stock outlook

We see a buying opportunity in Wal-Mart (Research). Since 2002, earnings are up 76 percent and the stock is down 28 percent.

Says David Katz, who owns the stock in his Matrix Advisors Value fund: "This is a company we'd always looked longingly at but never owned because it was so richly priced. Until now." Top of page

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