Daltorio’s “A single, safe, ‘blue chip’ stock with the potential for a 2,537% windfall.”

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, December 3, 2018

That’s a good headline, right? I pulled that quote from a Tony Daltorio ad that I saw over the weekend — and it seems to have the finger on the pulse of my nerves, at least, because combining those phrases “blue chip” and “windfall” in one sentence really give me a nice, warm feeling in my stomach.

Of course, if there’s really a 2,537% ‘windfall’ potential anytime soon, it probably ain’t a “blue chip” that makes you feel comfortable buying shares — that number was pulled from the incredible transformation Domino’s made when they went “all in” on digital and revamped their recipes at the same time, beginning almost ten years ago… but we can dream, right? So let’s look into the ad and see what stock it is that Daltorio is hinting at… then we can decide for ourselves.

The big picture part of the spiel for Growth Stock Advisor ($49/yr at the moment) is about something he calls the “Digital Helix” — and it’s what he says made it possible for Home Depot and Dominos and Best Buy to recover and thrive when Sears and Circuit City and so many others were floundering… here’s a little excerpt:

“… while the potential of this new technology is virtually limitless…

“Most retailers have absolutely NO CLUE how to put it to use…

“Staples has been closing stores left and right over the last years.

“Barnes & Noble is currently on its last leg.

“Sears was once one of the biggest department stores… and is now in its death throes.

“These are all retailers that poured hundreds of millions into digital transformation…

“And they all failed horribly at making their investments pay off or turning their businesses around.

“But I’ve discovered that all the WINNERS of this $100 trillion digital transformation have one thing in common…

“They Are All Using the Same Secret Weapon… The ‘Digital Helix'”

The “digital helix,” it seems, is all about doing a good job of combining traditional retail with new digital tools — he says it comes down to three “profit drivers:”

“Profit Driver #1: Focus on DIGITAL sales to boost revenues.

“Profit Driver #2: Give your customer experience a DIGITAL facelift.

“Profit Driver #3: Use cutting-edge supply chain technology to deliver products FASTER and CHEAPER”

OK, nothing terribly controversial there — though I imagine it’s probably pretty hard to tell from a quarterly press release whether a company is “transforming” or just throwing money at better websites and mobile apps.

So what company is it that he’s specifically teasing? A few more clues for you:

“This company has already finished a lot of the ‘heavy lifting’ — pouring billions into their digital transformation.

“Their stock hasn’t made any big moves yet.

“But once it gets going, it will move very, very fast.

“And this breakout could come soon!

“My research indicates you want to be on board before December 6….”

OK, so they’ve probably been investing in digital stuff for quite a while, and there’s some kind of news coming before Thursday… what else?

“This ONE company I have identified it could make you more money than Home Depot, Best Buy and Domino’s Pizza combined.

“It is currently the FIRST and ONLY company using the Digital helix in a $5.75 TRILLION market.”

So… a much bigger market than consumer electronics or pizza, at least on a revenue basis. Other hints?

“… their competitors are completely missing the boat right now…

“They are getting SLAUGHTERED in the retail apocalypse.

“18 major companies in this market have gone under/closed their doors since 2014…”

And a few clues about what they’re specifically doing…

“In 2017, their digital sales soared 90%.

“And in 2018 they have already boosted their digital sales by another 66%.

“Right now, they’re busy working on the second profit driver of the Digital Helix… upgrading their customer experience.

“They’re rolling out an infrared-sensor monitoring system in their store locations that automatically sends staff to checkouts as necessary.

“This way you never have to endure long lines at the cash register.

“They are also testing a hi-tech shelf display technology that, according to Business Insider, could ‘change this industry as we know it’.”

So… hoodat? Thinkolator sez the “secret” stock being touted is: Kroger (KR), the grocery store giant whose narrative went from “growth darling that revolutionizes grocery shopping” four or five years ago to “has-been getting destroyed by Wal-Mart and about to be eaten by Amazon’s Whole Foods” last year.

And as with all narratives, probably the truth is somewhere between those extremes — Kroger is a pretty healthy (albeit high-debt) grocery store operator with some strong brands and loyal customers, in an industry that has had a LOT of bankruptcies, as grocery shopping has transformed over the past decade or so with the rise of supercenters and organic foods and the seemingly falling appeal of traditional American branded, processed and packaged foods. The story over the past few years has been that the organics and specialty grocers (Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, etc.) are taking away the high-end urban and suburban shoppers, while Wal-Mart, with its increasing focus on groceries, has taken away the lower-income and rural shoppers.

Kroger definitely hit a slow patch, with relatively slow revenue growth over the past five years or so and a few years of dropping income, but 2018 has been quite good so far, even if you take away some of the impact of the tax cuts and whatever other one-time items bumped their earnings per share up dramatically in the past couple quarters (“normalized” earnings came in at about $2 a share in each of the past couple quarters, but basic EPS was over $4).

They still have lots of competition, but among the “traditional” grocery stores Kroger is the obvious king of the heap — it’s almost twice as big as number two player Albertson’s, so they will continue to have a lot of influence and cost efficiency and power over their suppliers… and they’ve also been much better than other traditional grocers in pushing “private label” brands over the years, which helps to keep prices down and margins up. That huge size also makes investments in digital initiatives more feasible, even when they take a while to bear fruit — so they’ve put a lot into analytics and in-store technology as well as digital ordering and delivery. They even bought a stake in UK robotic warehouse specialist Ocado as part of their plan to use Ocado’s technology in a bunch of new “smart warehouses.”

Kroger pays a decent dividend (yield just under 2%), and trades at a forward PE of about 13… so it’s a lot cheaper than Walmart or Costco, at least partly because it’s not a particularly sexy “story” stock, but it trades at a very similar valuation to Target (TGT), which has been growing revenues nicely but really struggling to grow earnings.

So yes, Kroger leads its industry and trades at a rational valuation. I don’t know if their investments in digital will just keep them treading water, or if they will be enough to provide some actual growth in the future, but it seems like a reasonable stock that has a decent chance of doing pretty well. I would be shocked if they end up seeing a big surge in revenue or earnings growth in short order, but it’s certainly possible that a better-than-expected surge in digital orders or early success with their Ocado warehouses and same-day-delivery ambitions could change the narrative for investors and get them excited again, getting KR a better PE ratio and driving the shares up.

And yes, there is a catalyst coming this week — Kroger reports earnings on December 6, so that is a real date. Whether it ends up being bad news or good news, I couldn’t tell you… I left my all-seeing eye in my other pants. Kroger pleased investors when they reported in June, bumping the stock price up about 10%, and the market had almost exactly the opposite reaction when they reported their most recent quarter in September. The stock is trading at a below average valuation, compared to Kroger’s history, but it has certainly been quite a bit cheaper during past slumps, too.

At current prices around $30 I’m inclined to agree with Morningstar, whose analysts says it’s trading right around fair value and might have a narrow “moat” thanks to their digital investments and market-leading size, which lets them market and operate more efficiently, especially in their biggest 50 or so population centers. I’d want to understand their digital initiatives and get a sense for their quality versus competitors before I’d think about buying the stock at this valuation, mostly because the relatively high debt burden is too much for me to think of it as “cheap” right now and there’s not a lot of room for any grocer to expand profit margins… but if they can get back to steady growth and make investors feel a little better about their prospects, I can certainly see how better days are possible. I’d guess that the stock will still be somewhere between $20 and $40 in a year, but I haven’t spent much time looking at it and that’s really just a guess. It has been a well-run company in the past, and is a clear survivor in an industry that has been decimated in many parts of the country, so it’s not crazy to think about investing in Kroger… just don’t go in looking for a 2,500% return.

That’s what I’m thinking, but it’s your money — so your thoughts are what matters… think Kroger is likely to be the next retail winner thanks to their digital initiatives? Think it’s too crazy? Not crazy enough? Let us know with a comment below.

P.S. Tony Daltorio’s Growth Stock Advisor has now been around for a year or so, which means subscribers are probably starting to form an opinion… if you’ve subscribed to Growth Stock Advisor, please click here to share your experience with your fellow investors. Thank you!

Disclosure: I own shares of Amazon among the stocks mentioned above. I will not trade in any covered stock for at least three days after publication, per Stock Gumshoe’s trading rules.


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24 Comments on "Daltorio’s “A single, safe, ‘blue chip’ stock with the potential for a 2,537% windfall.”"

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glbcpa1
Member
43

2,537% increase? Is Amazon buying them out?

sunnyca
Irregular
46

Oh shoot!. I was looking for a stock that has at least a 2540% potential increase so unfortunately I’ll have to pass on this one.

krinkle
Member
12
I live in a small town…ALL grocery store look like they are starving for business. I thought Krogers owned Albertsons. When trying to verify that thought, I noted that Albertsons is now held privately and they’ve bought Rite Aid and Safeway. So these days one cannot be sure what they are investing in if one buys a grocery store. I, myself, will avoid grocers since they all look like they are on death’s door. In my small region, they closed several Albertsons after recently opening big, splashy stores in modest – low-income neighborhoods. Judgment is the name of the game… Read more »
Paul
Guest
0

The Rite Aid purchase didn’t happen; the shareholders revolted because Rite Aid management was selling out cheap.

Tim
Irregular
9

I have heard that Walgreens will soon be selling Kroger brand OTC medications. I am not sure what that means but sounds as if 2 giants are talking.

gum120gru
Irregular
4

Kroger stores in Cincinnati vary widely in all aspects. I fail to see how the on-line-ordering service can be profitable. My daughter in-law uses it occasionally and we have been ‘gifted’ over $200 of beef on a $57.00 vegetable order.

gum120gru
Irregular
4

Kroger would not take back the $200.00 of beef they gave us by mistake. I took it back to Kroger anyway and told them to throw it away since we could find no charity that would accept it either.

barndoor
Irregular
13

If they are truly a grocer, their business per se is recession proof.
‘Common market wisdom’ suggests that grocers’ stocks therefore should decline less in a down market–they reduce your portfolio’s volatility.

So, do you need some ballast? Kroger might be it.

My own observation is that traditional grocers of regional size can do very well in downturns-capturing market share while keeping their pittance margins.

Alas, Kroger is hardly regional and Albertson’s is hardly a grocer.

Amateur
Guest
0

Thanks again for a great! newsletter that’s serious, intelligent and personable with well placed, humorous quips. “I left my all-seeing eye in my other pants.” Lol. Didn’t see it coming.

Paul
Guest
0

I’d rather own Kroger than IBM. I actually own some Kroger shares (and no IBM), but I wish I hadn’t bothered to buy it in 2016. So many other stocks have lapped it since then. (One example that’s not just a wild speculative move would be Veeva.) For instance, the company that did Kroger’s software (if it wsn’t an internal project) has probably had a lot more share appreciation than KR.

quincy adams
Guest
0

In my neighborhood, Kroger is the grocer we always go to as a last resort. And there are always many, many unused parking spaces. Are you sure there wasn’t a decimal point in front of the windfall number?

millerfilm
Irregular
52

In our area, we have some good Krogers. But, in our particular town, since it’s middle class, we end up with one of the worst Krogers in the area.

oceanwaves
Guest
0

I lived in a touristy SC coastal town where Kroger is a main shopping destination. No Whole Foods,, but there are several Wal Marts and a natural food store and an upscale market called Fresh Foods, (and a myriad of other regular and discount groceries) but Kroger is always busy.There is a vibrant organic section.

RudyT
Guest
0

Kroger bought our regional Fry’s awhile back, and has been upgrading the quality of choices in our store. The parking lot is packed almost any time of day. So you can’t tell by one store alone.

ethan
Guest
0

We like to eat and don’t see that changing anytime soon. We live in central Wisconsin. If we ordered our food online it would often rot in the back of a UPS truck before it reached us. Many tens of millions of us are dependent on a physical grocery stores, by choice. We wouldn’t live in an area fed by the “digital helix” if you put a gun to our heads. If the Amish church sold an “Agri production” stock we would jump on the initial offering! Thanks for the great article and honest insights.

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2624
Todd
Guest
0

https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-robots-and-drones-will-change-retail-forever-1539604800

Interesting article from WSJ detailing automation in retail with details of Ocado/Kroger

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4795
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Ocado (OCGDF)
gigi
Guest
0
kroger bought out roundy’s and i can’t see that they have done the stores much good. pick n’ save (previously copp’s, previously kohl’s) were large very ordinary stores. metro market was a fine small innovation with lots of organic items, pre-prepared choices to take home for dinner, etc. now they have brought metro market down, making it more like a pick n’ save. too bad. the order online, pickup at the door doesn’t seem very busy. i can’t see that they are heading in a direction to ward off either whole foods or walmart (or woodman’s, which has everything available,… Read more »
BJI
Guest
0

Isn’t Whole Foods also known as WHOLE PAYCHECK???!!!

hcumberland
Member
0

The only store we don’t have within a very short drive (or bike ride) is Trader Joes. Kroger’s Dillons stores are identical to the big Krogers and they are a category killer.
Target, Nat Grocers, Whole Foods, Aldi, Sprouts, Costco all get business from us, but Kroger gets 60% of our dollars. Variety , price and service. Parking lot is always crowded. Not so with any of the others mentioned.

shahbijalj
Irregular
5

bed bath and beyond is cheap too with $7 in cash and generating $500m in free cash flow. How low can it go from here?

jflynch
Guest
0

I was surprised when Krogers was mentioned. I don’t think they are a big deal. I went to Krogers in Ohio earlier this year….although Walmart was next very close….the prices at Walmart were much better. Also the Kroger’s store was not that big or great. I like Albertson’s much better. Wholefoods is also a nicer store with much selections plus Jeff Bezos….owns that one. He’ll be flying food to your house soon from Wholefoods I suppose. Anyway….appreciate the incite but I’d pass on this one….would go for Costco …Cost before that one.

mikllee
Member
12
I live in Boise, Id, Albertsons was started here in 1938 and owned the grocery market until a CEO sold out to Smiths out of Utah. That didn’t last. And Albertsons eventually went private. In the mean time Albertsons bought Safeway. And Fred Myer – a Kroger brand – got a toe hold in Boise. Now Boise has Trader Joes, Whole foods, Albertsons and Fred Myer and a regional grocer called Winco. There is a Natural Grocer and atleast a half dozen ethnic outlets for food here too. We got choices. Not like it was 10 years ago. I don’t… Read more »
Mike
Guest
0

Not a single comment about Aldi or Lidl?

catherine
Irregular
131
Mike, While I personally love Aldi, and spent an hour there this morning, I’m not concerned that no one has commented on it on this thread. My research, about 2 years ago, showed it to be a privately held German company. I thought Trader Joe owned it, but it’s actually the other way around. Their strategy used to be taking over large spaces and creating a low cost grocery store, but more recently seem to be adding more upscale and fresh prepared foods too. They also carry organic, gluten free, and allergy friendly items – at very good prices –… Read more »
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