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Amazon, Walmart, Target, and Costco Make Key Holiday Moves

The big retailers have laid the groundwork that will be good for shoppers and investors.



The big retailers have laid the groundwork that will be good for shoppers and investors.

Back when Black Friday meant people lining up outside of stores to battle for the hottest toys and cheap electronics, the holiday season sometimes produced a surprise winner. Maybe J.C. Penney had a good quarter because the traffic driven by more successful stores fed it customers or maybe an especially hot item powered an unlikely winner to a good season.

Now, for a variety of reasons, holiday retail has changed and in this (sort of) post-pandemic reality the best deals and biggest selection of in-demand items will be offered by retail's biggest players. Amazon (AMZN) - Get Free Report, Walmart (WMT) - Get Free Report, Target (TGT) - Get Free Report, and Costco (COST) - Get Free Report have all faced struggles over recent quarters, but they're still the best-positioned retailers for the holiday season.

That doesn't mean that niche players like Five Below (FIVE) - Get Free Report won't have a strong holiday season, some will, but 2022 will be a year where the strong get stronger and that's something both shoppers and investors should be aware of.


The Supply Chain Benefits Big Retailers

Target and Walmart both had to admit some major supply chain and inventory issues this year. Both companies ended up with too many bulky items like televisions that sold well during the height of the pandemic. When demand slowed, both chains made the decision to sell off items that did not fit their holiday plans.

That was a painful decision in the short term, but customers certainly saw it as a positive, so there was added goodwill for both chains. More importantly, Walmart and Target have the money to not have to hold onto bad inventory in order to clear space for what will sell. 

Costco has a much more limited selection of inventory, which gives it the buying power to cut to the front of the line when supply is limited. The warehouse club gets what it wants simply because its orders are so big.

Amazon has had its struggles given the wildly varying demand caused by the pandemic. It too, however, used an added Prime Day as a way to clear its warehouses and rightsize its inventory for the holiday season.

All four of these companies have simply spent more on supply chain and inventory management than their rivals. That's always an edge, but it's a massive one this year.

Investors Take a Look at Big Retail

Analysts often use quarterly numbers to justify buying or selling a stock. Long-term investors ask questions like, "regardless of how the stock price moved, do I think this company will be a leader in its category for years to come?" It's hard to look at Target, Walmart, Amazon, or Costco and not think that will be the case.

That creates some interesting buying opportunities when you look at these stocks year-to-date:

  • Amazon: -44.76%
  • Target: -29.55%
  • Costco: -5.69%
  • Walmart: 5.37%

The market has punished all of these companies for macroeconomic problems they don't control. In most cases, margins have dropped because these retailers have selectively opted to not pass on higher prices fully to their customers.

That may be a balance sheet negative for a quarter or even a few of them, but it's a massive edge in the marketplace long term. As an investor, it's hard to imagine a world where these four companies don't continue their sales dominance, driven by having the ability to do customer-friendly things like maintaining value relative to the competition.

There might be a surprise winner this holiday season, but it's unlikely we see any surprise losers from this group.

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Huge Coca-Cola and Pepsi brands face a new challenge

The soda giants dominate the beverage market outside coffee, but a key rival has made a major move to take them on.



Coca-Cola and PepsiCo dominate the soda business so thoroughly that they have leveraged their success into other categories. 

That has been a huge help to both companies as consumer habits have changed. Some people drink less soda, and even diet soda has been dropped by some Americans over concern that it contains dangers that go beyond calories. 

In addition, many consumers have upped their water intake, while others can't seem to live without an energy drink.

Related: Forget Bud Light, popular beer brand files for bankruptcy

To varying degrees of success, Coca-Cola (KO) - Get Free Report and PepsiCo have been able to gain meaningful market share in the U.S. in pretty much every beverage category. Coke, for example, was an early investor in Monster Beverage (MNST) - Get Free Report, which makes the wildly popular Monster Energy brand.

PepsiCo (PEP) - Get Free Report, in some ways, one-upped its rival by acquiring RockStar Energy for $3.85 billion in 2020. Both companies have tried to build their own brands in emerging categories, but they have not been afraid to acquire companies and then leverage their grocery, convenience store, and other relationships to grow sales. 

Perhaps the most successful purchase of any beverage brand by the big two was PepsiCo's acquisition of the Gatorade brand when it bought Quaker Oats in 2020. Gatorade's success (well before Pepsi owned the brand) forced Coca-Cola to create the less successful Powerade brand in 1998.

Coke also owns Vitamin Water, a similar product. Gatorade, of course, is not the market leader, but the No. 3 soft-drink seller in the U.S., Keurig Dr Pepper (KDP) - Get Free Report, has made a strong move into competing with Gatorade, Powerade, Vitamin Water, and other beverages in the growing hydration space. 

Keurig Dr Pepper owns a number of soda brands.

Image source: Keurig Dr Pepper

Keurig Dr Pepper invests in Electrolit      

Hydration beverages, or sports hydration beverages as they are sometimes called, have grown into an $11 billion category, according to data provided by Keurig Dr Pepper. 

And while Gatorade has been the dominant player, Coke's success with Powerade and Vitamin Water shows that there is room for more than one successful brand in the category.   

Now, Keurig Dr Pepper has made a major move into the sports hydration beverage space after agreeing with Grupo Pisa to sell, distribute and merchandise Electrolit, "a premium hydration beverage, across the United States as part of a long-term sales and distribution agreement." 

This move represents Keurig Dr Pepper's first exposure to the sports hydration market, which the company called "a key white space category." The deal, according to Keurig Dr Pepper, will "significantly expand Electrolit's distribution and continue the brand's accelerated growth."

"Electrolit is growing at a strong double-digit rate in the U.S., where it already generates more than $400 million in retail sales and has increased more than tenfold over the past five years," Keurig Dr Pepper said in a news release.

Coca-Cola and Keurig used to be partners

Two years before it merged with Dr Pepper, Keurig, under the corporate name Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, or GMCR, was best known for its single-serve K-Cup coffee brewers. The company partnered with Coca-Cola in 2015 to launch Keurig Kold, an attempt at a single-serve soda maker. 

At the time that product was announced, Coca-Cola took an equity stake in the coffee-maker company.

"Under the global strategic agreement, GMCR and the Coca‑Cola Company will cooperate to bring the Keurig Cold beverage system to consumers around the world," the companies said in a 2014 news release. 

"In an effort to align long-term interests, the companies also entered into a common stock purchase agreement whereby" Coke would buy a 10% minority equity position in GMCR. 

The Kold, of course, never caught on with the public and lasted for only about a year, Coca-Cola sold its GMCR stake when JAB Holdings took the company private in 2015 (before bringing the brand back to public markets with the Dr Pepper merger).

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Jason Christie returns to Compass in NYC

Jason Christie, a New York City luxury real estate agent, has returned to Compass after two years at Serhant.



Jason Christie

New York City luxury agent Jason Christie has returned to Compass after two years at Serhant, the company announced on Thursday.

Christie specializes in luxury real estate in Manhattan and the Bronx. He is also the founder of  “Agents of Color,” a national referral network for BIPOC real estate professionals. 

Christie said he returned to the brokerage because of its technology, agent network and culture.

“Compass’s client-centric service is incomparable to other brokerages,” Christie said in a statement. “And on top of that, the platform allows for a user-friendly experience on behalf of both the client and the broker.” 

Christie aims to transform the Compass Harlem office into a “central hub” for real estate agents to expand their presence in the neighborhood.

“We are thrilled to welcome Jason back to Compass,” Gordon Golub, Compass’s tri-state regional vice president said. “I have known Jason for many years. He is not only a pro at his craft, he is an incredible human being that truly embodies our culture and values.”

Prior to joining Serhant, Christie was with Compass from 2018 to 2021.

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Slow Death Of Department Stores As Non-Store Retailers Including Amazon Flourish

Slow Death Of Department Stores As Non-Store Retailers Including Amazon Flourish

Authored by Mike Shedlock via,

Nonstore retailers…



Slow Death Of Department Stores As Non-Store Retailers Including Amazon Flourish

Authored by Mike Shedlock via,

Nonstore retailers are holding pandemic gains as department stores slowly sink into oblivion...

Mish calculation from advance retail sales reports.

Non-store retailers include kiosks, vending machines, direct selling, telemarketing, direct marketing and e-tailing. Amazon is the largest non-store retailer.

I calculate the percentage excluding items that cannot or normally do not happen except in person. That list includes gas stations, food services, grocery stores, and motor vehicles.

Nonstore Retail Sales as Percent of Advance Retail Sales Detail

34 percent of sales excluding those items are now made online. Amazon is the biggest beneficiary and department stores are the biggest loser.

Advance Retail Sales Major Categories

Department stores are dying a slow death. There really is no point to them.

Big Surge in Retail Sales Will Put More Fed Rate Hikes on the Table

On October 17 I noted Big Surge in Retail Sales Will Put More Fed Rate Hikes on the Table

Retail sales unexpectedly rose 0.7% in September vs. 0.3% expected. The Commerce Department revised August from 0.6% to 0.8%.

See the above link for more details.

Trucking Recession Deepens: Convoy Suspends Operations and Cancels All Shipments

In a related post, note the Trucking Recession Deepens: Convoy Suspends Operations and Cancels All Shipments

There’s some sad news today in the trucking business today that unfortunately has some people cheering.

Why the Cheers?

Early investments came from vehicles backed by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.”

Lots of people hate Bill Gates and Al Gore. Bezos is mot particularly well liked either.

But it’s not like Bill Gates, Al Gore, or Jeff Bezos is going to be hurt by this. It will hardly matter to them at all.

Meanwhile, housing is in the gutter, auto companies are on strike, inflation is soaring, mortgage rates are 8.0 percent, and there is excess capacity in the shipping business.

Tyler Durden Thu, 10/26/2023 - 12:25

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