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Walmart's annual meeting is this week: Here's what you need to know

Walmart (WMT) is set to hold its annual shareholders meeting events this week and thousands, virtually and in-person, are expected to hear about the state of the nation's largest retail company.

This event, in Walmart's hometown of Bentonville, Arkansas, comes as the retailer is gaining market share from its rivals, especially from higher-income shoppers and others who are looking for value amid inflation nationwide. Shareholders, and various other guests, are also expected to hear about the company investing heavily in new automation, the opening recently of its first Arkansas market fulfillment center, and progress on new ventures like the retailer's ad business, called Walmart Connect.

There's lots of good news to talk about. Earlier this month, the retail giant posted first quarter same-store sales growth that beat expectations and raised its full-year earnings per share forecast to a range of $6.10-$6.20 per share, up from its prior expectations for earnings to come in at $5.95-$6.05 per share in its fiscal year. (Not all news is great: Shares of Walmart are up 3% compared to a year ago but lower than the S&P 500, which is up 9.4%.)

UBS analyst Michael Lasser, who has a Buy rating on shares of Walmart and a price target of $173, expects this week's meeting to have a "bullish tone," no different than the commentary from the recent call with investors.

If you plan on being in northwest Arkansas for the meeting and associated events this week, here's what to expect:

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Automation updates: Back in early April, at Walmart's investor meeting, the company said that by the end of fiscal year 2026, it aims to have 65% of its stores be serviced by the likes of AI digital assistants such as 'Ask Sam,' which is featured at its Sam's Club. That includes robots that scan inventory. It also aims to have approximately 55% of the fulfillment center volume move through automated facilities.

Seth Sigman, who has an Overweight rating and a $162 price target on shares said, "The focus on productivity and automation... that's really more about building a muscle to create a more profitable business model to invest" as the retailer looks to enhance its in-store shopping experience.

An inside look at the market fulfillment center: As Walmart aims to take on Amazon (AMZN), the company will offer an inside look at its new fulfillment center located in Arkansas, which is attached to a store. This is Walmart's second-ever fulfillment center and its first in Arkansas (the first one was in Salem, New Hampshire), and Walmart plans to open more in select stores in the coming years.

Fulfillment centers typically serve as a hub to get a product from a seller to the customer. These operations completely handle things like order pickup, package and delivery—unlike a distribution center which either sends the product to another location or directly to the consumer.

The fulfillment center is intended to boost the customer experience "through quicker, more accurate online order fulfillment," the company has said. These centers are expected to increase the number of orders a store can fulfill that day and decrease the number of times a product goes out of stock.

The opportunity to see the new fulfillment center in action, "will really bring a lot of this automation to life," Lasser said to Yahoo Finance.

Walmart Opens First Market Fulfillment Center in Arkansas as the Retailer Doubles Down on Store Fulfillment (Courtesy: Walmart)
Walmart Opens First Market Fulfillment Center in Arkansas as the Retailer Doubles Down on Store Fulfillment (Courtesy: Walmart)

Alternative businesses: Analysts are keeping score on how some recent major investments are performing like Walmart Connect, Walmart+, and Walmart Marketplace.

Walmart Connect is the retailer's advertising business that is intended to serve advertisers an in-store, online, and omnichannel experience to accelerate growth for their company.

Meanwhile, Walmart+ is a membership-based subscription model that costs $12.95 per month after a free 30-day trial. Perks include a Paramount+ subscription (PARA), free delivery from the store, free shipping with no order minimum, member savings on fuel, and return pickups from members' homes, among others.

D.A. Davidson managing director and senior research analyst Michael Baker said this is the "big story" for the retailer. He added: "They've been investing in all these new businesses, these alternative businesses," and now are finally seeing returns.

D.A. Davidson has a Buy rating on shares and a $178.07 price target.

Culture wars? Thursday, June 1, kicks off Pride Month and one of Walmart's biggest competitors Target (TGT) and others including Kohl's (KSS) are facing boycotts over pride-themed merchandise. Will Walmart and its executives weigh in?

Rock & Roll: Some analysts — well, maybe most of them — are also looking forward to the all-day associate celebration on Friday, June 2, which typically features entertainment from A-List celebrities alongside messages from senior leadership. Previous celebrity guests included James Corden, Jennifer Garner, Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton, Reese Witherspoon, Justin Timberlake, and even Taylor Swift back in 2012.

Any guesses on who it will be this year?

Brooke DiPalma is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Have a tip? Email her at bdipalma@yahoofinance.com.

Follow her on Twitter at @BrookeDiPalma.

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