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Members of Walmart’s Walton family sell $1.5 billion worth of stock as shares near record high

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Members of the Walton family sold roughly $1.5 billion worth of Walmart Inc. stock at the end of last week as shares hovered near a record high. 

The Walton Family Holdings Trust sold about 8.82 million shares between Feb. 21 and Feb. 23, according to US Securities and Exchange Commission filings from late Friday. The notifications were filed on behalf of Alice, Jim and Rob Walton.

Walmart has climbed about 13% this year, outperforming the 3.2% advance in the S&P Retail Select Industry Index. The shares rose 1.8% on Monday to close at a fresh record high. It was the first day of trading for Walmart after its 3-for-1 stock split took effect.

The previous record came just six days ago after the retailer’s fourth-quarter results topped Wall Street’s expectations and as executives said it’s gaining market share. The company’s fiscal-year outlook was also better than some analysts had anticipated.

The transaction comes amid a flurry of high-profile stock sales in recent weeks. JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon and his family sold $150 million worth of the bank’s stock last week in the first sale since he took the helm 18 years ago. Jeff Bezos also recently sold 50 million Amazon.com Inc. shares in multiple transactions as part of a plan he disclosed earlier this month.

A media representative for Walmart pointed to a 2015 statement from Walton Enterprises that said the Walton family expects to sell shares from time to time in order to help offset possible increases in its ownership percentage due to the company’s stock buyback programs, and to help fund charitable contributions. 

The Walton family owns about 45% of Walmart’s outstanding shares through the trust and their main investment vehicle, Walton Enterprises, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Alice, Jim and Rob Walton have a combined fortune of $274 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

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