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Walmart’s Conflicting Filings Suggest Potential for $750 Million Accounting Error
Walmart revises its ownership stake in Flipkart for a third time this year raising questions over its accounting of the Indian ecommerce firm.
December 2, 2021
Last quarter, Walmart (WMT) reported taking part in another investment round in Flipkart, the Indian ecommerce marketplace of which it owns the majority. Flipkart raised $3.6 billion in equity funding:
“...a portion of which was contributed by the Company, which reduced the Company's ownership of Flipkart to approximately 75%.”
It’s not clear how much the offering actually diluted Walmart. The company paid $16 billion for its stake in Flipkart in 2018. Walmart’s most recent 10-K— which was filed approximately three months before Flipkart’s latest funding round— noted Walmart’s stake was 2%-6% higher than it is following the latest round:
“...the Company acquired 81 percent of the outstanding shares, or 77 percent of the diluted shares…”
In its latest 10-Q, Walmart reiterates its stake is now 75% but provides conflicting information about its original stake. Instead of an 81% original stake as stated in the annual report, Walmart now suggests it originally owned 2% more of Flipkart prior to the capital raise:
“...which reduced the Company's ownership of its majority-owned Flipkart subsidiary from approximately 83% as of January 31, 2021, to approximately 75%.”
If Walmart originally owned 83% as it now says, the company’s stake in Flipkart was diluted more than was reported in previous filings. If it originally owned 81% as it stated nine months ago, Walmart should explain the discrepancy as 2% amounts to more than $750 million based on Flipkart’s latest valuation.
Further obscuring Walmart’s accounting of Flipkart is whether its current 75% stake is a reference to Flipkart’s outstanding or diluted shares. Ninety days ago, when we originally exposed the discrepancy, we laid out why it’s important:
“Understanding whether Walmart’s now 75% stake is in reference to outstanding or diluted shares matters because either reports estimating Flipkart’s value at $37.6 billion are incorrect or Walmart’s ownership stake is now much less than disclosed in the latest quarterly filing. It’s also the second time Walmart has provided Flipkart with additional cash following its initial investment.
With competition in India from Amazon and local player Reliance Industries, Walmart’s stake in Flipkart may be diluted further if more funding is necessary. Investors deserve to know just how much of the company Walmart really owns.
We’ve asked Walmart for clarification. Thus far, the company has refused to tell us whether its 75% stake in Flipkart is based on outstanding or diluted shares. We suspect it’s because the math doesn’t work. Either Walmart doesn’t own nearly as much as it says or Flipkart isn’t worth what Walmart and its new investors, which include Softbank, want investors to believe.”
Related: COST, KR, TRGT, AMZN
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