Despite the global recession, the discount retailer's bargain prices lured consumers worldwide under new President and CEO Michael Duke. Wal-Mart continued expanding globally, reaching further into Asian markets, and it completed its biggest Latin-America acquisition: a controlling interest in Chile's largest grocer, Distribucion y Servicio.
Growth won't be easy for Wal-Mart in 2010. In the U.S., the retailer must battle high unemployment and rising gas prices. But international sales could pick up the slack: In 2009, nearly 25% of income came from outside the U.S. As Duke told investors and analysts at Wal-Mart's annual shareholder meeting in June: Global markets are "becoming an even bigger and more important part of our company."