WAL-MART ACCUSATIONS MAY BE OPPORTUNITY

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When does $1.00 equal $720? When Wal-Mart Stores Inc. /quotes/zigman/245476/quotes/nls/wmt WMT +2.69% loses $720 in market value for every $1 of alleged bribes in Mexico. But maybe the larger question is whether or not that loss provides an opening for investors. I think that it does.

The bribery accusations

According to the New York Times , Wal-Mart allegedly gave bribes worth $24 million to Mexican officials. In the article, top executives of Wal-Mart are accused of a cover-up.

In a very short time, Wal-Mart has become one of the biggest private employers in Mexico. The company has been very successful there, having brought 15% to 20% lower prices on goods that are popular in the country.

The alleged bribes appear to have been aimed at a variety of officials who issue permits for new stores.

$1 Equals $720

Wal-Mart has 3.40 billion shares outstanding. Since the allegations, Wal-Mart has lost $5.08 per share in value as of this writing. This translates into market capitalization of $17.27 billion dollars. Since the allegation is of bribes worth $24 million, for each dollar in bribes, Wal-Mart has lost $719.66 in value.

Siemens precedent

A potentially similar, albeit larger, case, if the allegations are true, is a U.S. case against Germany’s Siemens AG. Siemens plead guilty to improper payments totaling $1.8 billion to officials in Argentina, Bangladesh and Venezuela. Under the U.S. law, Siemens could have been fined as much as $2.7 billion, but the Department of Justice settled for a much lower figure because the company helped with the investigation.

In the case of Wal-Mart, the allegation is for bribes of $24 million compared to $1.8 billion for Siemens..Read more at MarketWatch.

 


 

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