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Wal-Mart: 500,000 new jobs worldwide in 5 years

By Chavon Sutton, staff reporter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Friday it plans to create 500,000 jobs throughout the world in the next five years, saying there is tremendous opportunity for growth globally.

"We need to recruit the best talent and identify the best talent in our ranks," CEO Mike Duke told analysts and investors at the company's annual shareholder meeting in Fayetteville, Ark. It was not immediately clear how many of the jobs would be created in the United States.

Wal-Mart (WMT, Fortune 500) also announced a new program to repurchase $15 billion of its shares, which replaces a $15 billion repurchase plan announced a year ago. The company said $10.3 billion in stock had been purchased as a result of the prior program.

Hosted this year by Jamie Foxx, Wal-Mart's annual meeting was again a star-studded fanfare. Movie stars and musicians such as Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, recent "American Idol" winner Lee DeWyze, and Enrique Iglesias entertained shareholders who traveled far and wide for the annual part-pep rally, part-concert.

Duke said growth would not come easily, highlighting such challenges in the next 20 years as higher energy costs, nimble and innovative competitors, and technology.

The CEO also commented on Wal-Mart's low-price strategy, saying a "new era of price transparency," brought on by the advent of mobile technologies, would make it more difficult to maintain its leadership position.

Wal-Mart officials called their international business strong, with Duke saying "It's becoming an even bigger and more important part of our company." He added that more than 60% of the company's new square footage last quarter was in Wal-Mart's international unit.

Sales from the company's international division exceeded $100 billion or about 25% of its $405 billion in total revenue. To top of page

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