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Has anyone told Sam?

New York — "The misconception is that we're in the retail business," said Jay Fitzsimmons, senior vp and treasurer of Wal-Mart. But in reality, "we're in the distribution business."

Speaking at noontime today to investors at Merrill Lynch's Global Retailing Leaders Conference, Fitzsimmons added that Wal-Mart's goal is to move products through the pipeline to the customer's trunk in as little as 72 hours. Its distribution network of 100 centers nationwide, including facilities for the Web site and returns, provide efficiencies for the retailer.

"Most people say we buy at the lowest price and sell it at the lowest price," but that's not always true, he said. More accurately, Wal-Mart can sell it at the lowest price because it has the lowest distribution costs.

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