Walmart is absolutely killing it.
Bob Drbul, Guggenheim’s senior managing director of equity research, has said he is “fanatical” about the retail giant. Its stock took a slight hit on Wednesday after a $10 billion merger deal with UK rival J Sainsbury was thrown into question, but Drbul said he isn’t too concerned.
“They’re doing an amazing job really evolving their business, you know, with the retail stores here in the US, with their internet business and the blending of physical and digital,” Drbul told CNN Business’ Julia Chatterly during the “Markets Now” live show on Wednesday.
Walmart’s online sales represent only a small sliver of the overall e-commerce market: The company accounts for less than 5% of online sales while Amazon (AMZN) handles over half.
But Drbul said of all the big names in brick-and-mortar retail, Walmart has impressed him with its ability to “find its footing” in the digital age.
The company has brought on high-end brands like Bonobos and Modcloth, sought cheaper grocery options, and looked to offer new ways to shop online and in stores. So far, its plan appears to be paying off. Walmart reported blowout holiday sales this week with a 43% rise in digital sales.
Drbul pointed out that there is a loyal base of Target fans, but he’s neutral about the company’s outlook.
“From a business standpoint, I think they’re behind where Walmart is in terms of the investment in e-commerce,” he said.
Target is in a strong financial position, but it doesn’t have the kind of cash flow a Amazon or Walmart. That could make it more difficult for Target to make much-needed investments to adapt with the times, Drbul said.
On the athletic wear front, Nike (NKE) is the top pick for Drbul in 2019. He said the brand has boosted its desirability around the world with new products and impressive marketing campaigns. Rival Under Armour (UA), on the other hand, hasn’t captured his attention in the same way, and Drbul said he’s waiting to see what happens now that the company has brought in some new leadership.
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