- Walmart stock is now badly undervalued compared with its retailing peers.
- It is doing many things in electronic commerce which its rivals are not capable of trying.
- Neighborhood Markets and a competitor to Apple Pay is among those attempts.
Consider this. The market cap of $191 billion is less than 40% of the current year’s estimated sales of $500 billion. Compare the current Price/Earnings multiple, at 12.7, with nearly 17 at its main competitor, Target (NYSE:TGT) or 20 at another primary competitor, Kroger (NYSE:KR).
At Walmart’s current price you’re paying just over 10 times operating cash flow for the whole company.
There were reasons for Walmart to fall, almost 30% in the last year. Top-line growth has stalled, rivals are growing, and the company told investors recently it will forego profits for a few years to improve operations, especially in e-commerce.
But this company is not yet dead. The Neighborhood Market concept seems to be working, meaning Walmart is no longer “just” a big box, and that it can grow effectively in major urban markets, not just on the periphery. As bad as it’s assumed its Web site is, compared with that of Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Walmart is currently the second-largest e-tailer around, and by a wide margin. As much as the investing class may sneer at Walmart shoppers, they number in the tens of millions, and the company has a virtual monopoly on small markets from coast to coast.
Walmart does not have to become Amazon to make you money. If it just becomes as valued as Target, it should gain 30%. If it becomes as valued as Kroger, it can rise 50%.
A lot of people sneer at Walmart’s e-commerce efforts, but it is trying more things than Target or Kroger are. Walmart Pay, the QC code-based payment system being rolled out this week, is not an “atom bomb” dropped on Apple Pay, but it could become an effective way for Walmart to increase loyalty through customer data. It is based on CurrentC, a technology Walmart had been working on with others for years.
Walmart now has one of the largest OpenStack clouds in the world and its Walmart Labs has dozens of projects on GitHub, including a program called OneOps designed to fight Amazon Web Services lock-in. Does Target? No. Does Kroger? No.
Walmart is still in a turnaround mode, not ready to take over the world, or eat Amazon’s lunch. But it is now undervalued against the retailers it most closely competes with, and a year from now I suspect a lot of people may be saying it doesn’t deserve to be. At $60/share it’s a bargain.