Wall Street is beginning to kick the tires on shares of Walmart (WMT) ahead of the crucial holiday shopping season, which up until a week ago was down modestly on the year, compared to a more than 15% gain on the S&P 500.
The latest bullish call on the world's largest retailer came Tuesday from Goldman Sachs' retail analyst Kate McShane.
"The stock currently trades at an 11% discount to its five-year relative P/E average despite the company’s improving financial algorithm, and compares to the broadlines peer group which are all inline to better on the same metric. We think the stock has sold off recently mainly due to concerns around the lower end consumer given rising gas prices as well as supply chain issues impacting companies with less pricing power. Walmart already has historically wide price gaps, so there is room to raise prices where needed, but more importantly, we think its value proposition should become more compelling for customers driving traffic and market share gains, although we recognize gas prices hold a somewhat inverse relationship to Walmart's same-store sales historically," explained McShane.
McShane put Walmart's stock on Goldman's closely watched "Americas Conviction Buy" list and removed Target (TGT). McShane sees Walmart's stock reaching $194 over the next 12-months, up from $184 previously.
Shares of Walmart popped 2% to $144.54 in Tuesday's session.
But McShane's call on Walmart isn't just a valuation one.
The veteran retail analyst thinks Walmart's fundamentals warrant another look by investors as they continue to improve in key areas.
"After several years of investment (largely in e-commerce and its supply chain) weighing on profitability, we think Walmart is now in a position to grow EBIT [earnings before interest interest and taxes] dollars along with continued investments due to the greater scale of its e-commerce business today, improving mix, and growth from higher margin ancillary businesses like advertising (Walmart Connect)," McShane added.
Other Wall Street analysts are also beginning to pound the table on Walmart, though aren't ready to dismiss rival Target after its impressive results so far in 2021.
"Walmart and Target entered 3Q with strong inventory positions. Both retailers should benefit from more favorable port access, long-term container shipping agreements and chartered vessel capacity. Walmart and Target should gain share from smaller competitors this holiday that lack scale and face more shortages due to the challenging supply chain environment," said Bank of America retail analyst Robby Ohmes in a research note last week.
Ohmes thinks both retailers should see less labor cost pressure as they cycle sizable wage inflation last year and their market share gains in food as further reasons to be upbeat. Both stocks are top picks for Ohmes, based on his research.