Wal-mart Stores Inc. shares were down 1.7% in morning trading after it said it will close 269 stores in the U.S. and abroad. Of the closures, 154 locations will be in the U.S., including the 102 Walmart Express locations, the company’s smallest stores, which had been in pilot since 2011. The company will also close 23 Neighborhood Markets, 12 Supercenters, seven stores in Puerto Rico, six discount centers, four Sam’s Club stores and 115 stores internationally. The closures represent less than 1% of both global square footage and revenue, the company said in a Friday release. The closures will impact 16,000 associates, 10,000 of them in the U.S. More than 95% of the closing stores are located within 10 miles of another Walmart, and the company said affected associates will be given priority for open positions. Associates who aren’t relocated will receive 60 days pay and, if eligible, severance and job training skills. The financial impact will be 20 cents to 22 cents per share from continuing operations, with 19 cents to 20 cents expected to impact the fourth quarter of fiscal 2016. Wal-Mart will report fourth-quarter and full-year earnings on Feb. 18. The move is part of the growth plan unveiled during the company’s October investor event. Wal-Mart shares are up 4.6% for the past three months, but down 29% for the past 12 months. The S&P is down 5.7% for the past 12 months.
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