Walmart announces 3-for-1 stock split as shares hover below all-time high

A worker carries bananas inside the Walmart Supercenter in North Bergen, New Jersey.

Eduardo Munoz Alvarez | AP

Walmart announced a three-for-one stock split on Tuesday as the retailer’s shares sit just below their all-time high.

The company said the additional shares will be payable after the market closes Feb. 23 to shareholders of record as of the previous day. Walmart’s stock will start trading on a post-split basis Feb. 26.

Walmart said it chose to break up shares in part to allow more employees to buy into its stock purchase plan. The company “felt it was a good time to split the stock and encourage our associates to participate in the years to come,” CEO Doug McMillon said in a statement.

Walmart shares rose about 1% in extended trading.

The big-box retailer thrived in the last year as many of its rivals stagnated. As the largest grocer in the U.S., it could withstand pressures on discretionary spending that tripped up competitors.

Walmart’s sales climbed to $160.80 billion in the third quarter, a roughly 5% increase from the previous year. The company plans to report earnings for the holiday quarter next month.

The stock closed Tuesday at $165.59, shy of the all-time high of $169.94 it hit in November. Walmart shares have climbed about 5% this year.

The company has done 11 two-for-one stock splits in its history. The most recent came in 1999.

The stock split comes as Walmart tries to boost employee benefits and loyalty. Earlier this month, the company said it would increase store manager wages to an average of $128,000 per year and change its bonus program to make managers eligible for a bonus of up to 200% of their base salary.

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