In the bad old days of Soviet-style communism, the path to the workers' paradise was through a state-directed economy and the No. 1 tool for making that direction a reality was the five-year plan. Planning five years into the future is, at best, a hail-Mary exercise. There is simply too many unknowns. Yet, Adam Levine-Weinberg, writing in Wal-Mart's Turnaround Will Take a Long Time for The Motley Fool wants investors to envision a five-year plan for Walmart.
A few years ago, Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman opined that executing a turnaround for an enormous business typically takes a full five years. Wal-Mart shareholders have recently learned just how true that statement was.
Maybe Whitman was right, but tagging the business executive named by Bloomberg as the No. 1 Most Underachieving CEO doesn't lend confidence to Levine-Weinberg's thesis. Maybe HP did need five years. The problem was that HP didn't have five years. Whitman's problem may be Walmart CEO Doug McMillon's problem as well.
This week, the retail titan reported Q2 earnings that missed analysts' estimates. The company also cut its full-year earnings guidance and significantly slashed its e-commerce growth target for this year. In the past two years or so, Wal-Mart has made some savvy moves to fix its business. However, it will probably take several more years for it to return to sustainable growth.
Does anyone think investors are going to park there dollars in Walmart stock for the next five years on the chance that there's a turnaround in the Bentonvile Behemoth's future? There is a very un-Soviet joke that goes like this: if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.

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