Is Kroger Amazon-Proof After All?

In this segment from the Motley Fool Money podcast, host Chris Hill and senior Motley Fool analysts Jason Moser, David Kretzmann, and Ron Gross review the latest numbers for America’s largest largest supermarket chain operator, Kroger (NYSE: KR). Investors who were panicked that e-commerce steamroller (NASDAQ: AMZN) was going to immediately begin crushing the incumbents’ margins after its Whole Foods acquisition apparently were too pessimistic. And Kroger, in particular, has been improving both online and in stores.

A full transcript follows the video.

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This video was recorded on June 22, 2018.

Chris Hill: Kroger’s first quarter profits came in higher than expected. The grocery chain also racked up some nice online sales growth, and shares of Kroger up 13% this week, Jason.

Jason Moser: Yes! I feel somewhat validated with the comments I made about a year ago on Market Foolery, when Amazon announced the deal to buy Whole Foods. If you remember that day, I think every single grocery store —

Hill: They got whacked.

Moser: Yeah, they got whacked, to say the least. Certainly, Kroger was no exception. I was saying back then, though, that was a good example of a knee-jerk reaction when Amazon does anything. Fast-forward to today, guess what? Kroger’s doing quite well. If you bought shares of Kroger on that dip, then you’re feeling pretty good about yourself right now.

I think there are a number of reasons for that. You mentioned digital sales. Digital sales were up 66% for the quarter. Really, this all goes back to what the company’s North Star is. It’s this initiative called Restock Kroger. It’s focused on redefining the grocery customer experience — that sounds good, doesn’t it —

Ron Gross: I want to know what PR firm put that out.

Moser: — [laughs] expanding partnerships to create customer value. We all love creating value, right? Also, to develop talent and live our purpose. Now, I mean, some of that sounds pretty squishy, but I think really, they are doing a good job in growing those digital sales. They have really produced a lot of results with their private brands, they call them Our Brands. And we’ve seen the success that Whole Foods has had with their private brands. Kroger is seeing that same type of success.

Now, all of this said, I still don’t think groceries are the most attractive investment opportunity for investors. I think it’s more of a value-style investment. You identify when it’s undervalued, you sell it when it’s fairly overvalued. Kroger’s probably at that point now where it’s pretty fairly valued.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Chris Hill owns shares of Amazon. David Kretzmann owns shares of Amazon. Jason Moser has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Ron Gross owns shares of Amazon. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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