Walmart stock price jumped by nearly 5% on today's pre-market trading to hit new all-time highs, now at a stone's throw distance from the round figure of $180 per share. I am pleased to recall that this case of North-American economy class supermarkets has occupied a worthy place in my personal investment portfolio since mid-November, when it plummeted from a direct vicinity of $170 to a $155 area despite solid growth in both sales and profits in Q3. That time, warnings by Walmart CEOs of only a possibility of moderate damage from additional pressure on consumer spending power ahead of the Christmas season just gave dips buyers like me a brilliant chance to purchase the stock cheaper than many of us expected. More than 15% share price increase in three months looks outstanding for the consumer staples segment, which usually carries less risks and has lower volatility compared to the S&P 500 benchmark.

An extra benefit for further Walmart growth was that the store chain presented its hyping AI-bases helpers at the CES conference session in Las Vegas, which took place in the very beginning of January. They combine AI capacities delivered by Microsoft, which is one of a clear crowd's favourite, with Walmart's own customer data. Customers may use a search tool for specific purposes like "please, help me plan a themed party" to receive a short or long list of recommended items, instead of individually searching for chips, balloons or particular brands. This creates more comfort and has the capacity to increase an average bill, as well as another assistant, which may better populate online shopping carts with commonly ordered items.

Good business development efforts plus stronger focusing on low-priced and discounted products, following shoppers' desire to save money, gave excellent financial returns. Walmart beats estimates as Q4 adjusted profit came out at $1.80 per share, against consensus expectations of $1.65 per share only. A 3.9% rise in comparable sales, excluding fuel, compared to Wall Street's average forecast of 2.9% is really impressive. Global e-commerce sales of Walmart added as much as 23% YoY. Raising annual dividends, this time by 9%, became a tradition for Walmart to mark its 51st consecutive year of increases. Dividend payments would be distributed in four quarterly instalments, with record dates set for March 15, May 10, August 16, and December 13 of 2024, and corresponding payable dates on April 1, May 28, September 3, 2024, and January 6, 2025, respectively. This forms an additional basis for holding the stock for extended periods of time, probably even when the broader market may signal signs for correction, which is almost inevitable this year.