NEW YORK (Real Money) -- Walgreen (WAG) hasn't had much of a break lately. It didn't do an inversion when it clearly could have, given that it is actually merging with a real live foreign company, Alliance Boots. It had a ton of hedge fund owners who fled from it like bats out of hell when it didn't invert. The chief financial officer was fired after a more than a billion-dollar change down in estimates. He has subsequently sued, claiming he was pressured into making some too-high projections. There was even a point-of-sale database mishap, which hurt the firm for a couple of days.
It's been a terrible time for Greg Wasson and his team. But sometimes terrible times create discounts, which is why Action Alerts Plus has been buying Walgreen right here, and I sense that Walgreen's luck is about to change. That's because Walgreen isn't joining Rite Aid (RAD) - Get Rite Aid Corporation Report and CVS (CVS) - Get CVS Health Corporation Report in refusing to be part of the Apple (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report Pay ecosystem. Rite Aid and CVS have their own systems they are developing for mobile, with which they can capture information about you; Apple Pay is more secure, because it stores your data on your phone, not with Apple and not with the store where you are shopping.
I think that after the huge data breaches at Home Depot (HD) - Get Home Depot, Inc. Report and Target (TGT) - Get Target Corporation Report , people are very concerned about privacy and security. The one thing that we know is that the Apple system is considered to be the safest and most private. One look at the positive note in The New York Times about Tim Cook talking about rapid adoption tells you that Apple's got something that's steamrolling this industry.
It would not surprise me that the anti-Apple Pay intransigence of CVS and Rite Aid drives customers to Walgreen as so many apparently love the ease with which Apple Pay works. That's why I know Walgreen isn't going to go back on its Apple word. There's too much business being taken from its principal competitors.
Won't Walgreen fall behind CVS and Rite Aid in data capture? I think Walgreen is making a bet that you will have to offer the choice of Apple in order to get the maximum number of customers, including customers that might not otherwise go to Walgreen. I hate ever to analogize to tobacco, but it's pretty clear that Walgreen is prochoice there, too, even as I wish it weren't.
I think this is a win for Walgreen and a loss for the other two companies I like in this heavily consolidated industry, CVS and Rite Aid.
Can it be a needle mover? From the early returns, I have to answer a resounding yes!
Action Alerts PLUS, which Cramer co-manages as a charitable trust, is long WAG, AAPL.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published at 5:43 a.m. EDT on Real Money on Oct. 28.