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Wal-Mart looks to further expense cuts

Rogers, Ark. - During Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s annual meeting with the investment community here today, executives said the company is focused on near-term performance improvements and continues working to reduce operating expenses as a percentage of sales.
The company set the cost-cutting goal two years ago with a five of paring the metric by 100 basis points over five years.
"We made progress on that goal last year, and our goal is to deliver leverage again for this fiscal year," said Mike Duke, company president and ceo.
Duke described the global economy as "tough and unpredictable." He added: "The competition is also tough. And the holidays are right around the corner - raising the stakes even further on serving customers and delivering on performance. All of this is to say that near-term execution is critical for us."
So far, the U.S. logistics team has trimmed shipping costs and improved transportation efficiency, he said. Wal-Mart's single process initiative has produced savings in labor productivity in China. In addition, the company has shifted responsibility for all but one market in Latin America to its Costa Rican Shared Services Center.
Duke also pointed to e-commerce and the company's efforts to condense the intersection between physical and digital retailing. "We've never been more connected across the company on e-commerce, and our results demonstrate this." In the first half of the year, Walmart's e-commerce sales grew 30% globally, including a strong performance at Yihaodian in China.

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