World Economy

Wal-Mart Heirs See $11b Vanish in a Day

Wal-Mart Heirs See $11b Vanish in a DayWal-Mart Heirs See $11b Vanish in a Day

The four members of the Walton family controlling more than half the shares of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. had $11 billion of their combined net worth evaporate Wednesday as shares of the retailer plunged on a lower earnings outlook for the coming fiscal year, Bloomberg reported.

The billionaire Waltons -- Christy, Jim, Alice and Rob -- have a combined $120 billion fortune, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, with the bulk of their wealth in the shares they inherited from Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton. The four shareholders, three children of Sam and Christy, the surviving spouse of a fourth sibling, are among the year’s worst-performing billionaires, losing a total of $41 billion since Jan. 1.

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based mass merchandiser, which once famously promoted its discount strategy with the phrase “Watch out for falling prices,” announced earlier Wednesday that earnings will slip as much as 12% in fiscal 2017, which ends in January that year. Analysts had been estimating a slight gain. Wal-Mart shares fell 10% in Wednesday trading and reached their lowest level since May 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The family members had a combined net worth of $169 billion in January when Wal-Mart shares reached a 2015 high of $90.47. They aren’t the only members of the index to suffer large losses this year. Mexican telecom tycoon Carlos Slim has the largest individual loss with $12.5 billion, followed by Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is a Wal-Mart investor, at $12.1 billion.