Who's afraid of the big, bad Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) - Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report and its "takeover" of the grocery sector? Probably not Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST) - Get Costco Wholesale Corporation Report , whose stock has soared about 20% since its Q4 results Oct. 5.
"We believe COST is insulated from Amazon and is well-positioned to continue to increase both it marketshare and new memberships..." wrote Barclays analysts Karen Short, Sean Kras and Ryan Gilligan in a note on Wednesday, Dec. 13. The analysts attributed the "insulation" to 1) food offerings, as the main reason customers keep coming back; 2) the company's "meaningful" exposure to business customers; 3) high-quality products; 4) low prices; 5) an e-commerce boost.
Costco will report 2018 Q1 earnings on Thursday, Dec. 14, after the bell.
Last August when Amazon bought the upscale chain Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, a collective shudder from grocers went out and predictions were dire for those in the space. Amazon would gobble up all competitors went the conventional wisdom at the time. Yet, the e-tailer's dominance of the segmented grocery sector has yet to materialize.
And Costco has weathered that sea change in fine form, wrote the analysts: "[T]he stock has recouped the losses following the AMZN/WFM acquisition and is again trading at an all-time high."
Barclays also cited other pluses aiding Costco including, better overall trends in retail; short covering across the board — with investors both familiar and unfamiliar with the sector; enthusiasm about tax reform; and strong comp and traffic trends at Costco.
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