- Whole Foods’ stock is trading above the $42 per share offer Amazon made for the company last week, indicating investors are anticipating a higher offer, according to CNBC.
- According to Barclays’ analyst Karen Short, Whole Foods could potentially be more valuable to other brick-and-mortar retailers who could gain an estimated $600 in savings through synergies.
- Short named Walmart, Target and Kroger as companies that could make a bid for the organic grocer.
Whole Foods’ investors would certainly love to see a bidding war take place.
“We thought Amazon was thrifty in its offer," Charles Kantor, managing director at Neuberger Berman Investment Advisers, told Reuters. The firm, which owns 2.7% of Whole Foods' shares, joined activist investor Jana Partners this spring in pushing the company to explore a sale.
But will another company bite? According to financial and industry experts, other retailers would love to make the deal a bit harder for Amazon to close. Kroger or Walmart could make an offer, drive up the share price and force Amazon to come in closer to $50 per share, compared to the $42 proposal that’s on the table now.
Considering Amazon’s considerable fortunes even a protracted bidding war wouldn’t have much of an impact on its bottom line.
There also aren’t any strong potential bidders out there. Kroger’s stock took a hit last week after the company downgraded its earnings forecast, meaning the company may not have the resources — much less the appetite — to duel with Amazon. Albertsons, which had been rumored as a potential buyer shortly after Jana Partners stepped in, is highly leveraged and would likely struggle to bid high for Whole Foods.
Walmart has the resources to acquire Whole Foods. But the company’s focus right now is on investing in pricing and resources for its existing 4,600 stores. Potentially acquiring a large, pricey natural and organics retailer could amount to taking its eye off the ball.
At the same time, these large retailers know that an Amazon-Whole Foods deal will likely have a major impact on their business and the overall food retail industry. Discussions are no doubt taking place in their board rooms, and one or more companies may decide its worthwhile to knock Amazon off-balance.