How To Make 12% In Walmart In 2008 – Even If The Stock Goes Nowhere

This morning before the open, retailing behemoth Walmart (WMT) reported the first $100 billion in sales quarter ever by a retailer

To put that number in context, the personal consumption part of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2007 was $9.7 trillion (total GDP was $13.8 trillion (BEA 4Q GDP Release)).  At an annualized rate of $400 billion, then, Walmart represents about 4% of all consumer expenditures in the United States!

Walmart reported earnings of $1.04 per share, excluding items – beating analyst expectations by 2 cents.  Its forecast was a little weak (WMT FY 4Q Earnings Release) but, of all retailers, Walmart, with its relentless focus on costs and prices, should hold up best in a difficult, possibly recessionary, environment.

At a forward multiple around 14, a 1.75% dividend and its stock acting well of late, Walmart is somewhat attractive here (around $50).


The only problem is that being such a massive company, it takes a lot to move the dial.  Even if Walmart performs superbly, it probably can’t grow earnings more than 8-10% a year which corresponds to an 8-10% annual gain in share price as long as the mulitple stays the same.

One way to juice your returns a bit is to buy Walmart shares and sell covered calls on them.  For example, you could buy the shares at $50 and sell the Jan09 $50 calls for $5 each.  That gives you a 10% return on your investment right off the bat. 


What this does is essentially cap your gains on the shares at 12% – the 10% premium and the 2% dividend.  If the shares finish in the money, the buyer of the calls you sell will excercise and you will turn over the shares.  Your return will be 12%.

If the shares go down, the calls will finish out of the money and your return will be 12% minus however much Walmart’s shares lose.

The only way you lose money on this trade is if Walmart loses more than 12% over the course of the year in which case the call premium and dividend don’t cover the share price decline on the shares you hold.

This is a good way to make 12% by holding a very safe stock that should do well in a difficult environment.

Disclosure: Top Gun is long Walmart (WMT) and short Walmart calls.

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