Home Depot Inc. (HD - Get Report) may be intent on acquiring shipping giant XPO Logistics Inc. (XPO - Get Report) to fend off the likes of Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN - Get Report) , but that doesn't mean the internet giant is sitting still.
Amazon could make a competing bid for XPO as it looks to maintain its stranglehold over last-mile delivery, or the process of getting a package from a distribution center to the consumer's door. Amazon has already built up a massive fulfillment and logistics network, but acquiring XPO could give it a leg up in another segment of the delivery market, according to analysts.
XPO shares have shot up more than 16% over the past five days since Recode first reported on Friday that Home Depot has been engaging in internal talks about an XPO deal for several months. Home Depot is believed to be weighing an acquisition of XPO to prevent Amazon from buying the logistics company, though Amazon may also be interested in XPO, Recode added, citing sources familiar with the situation.
Both Home Depot and Amazon work with XPO to deliver large appliances and furniture like refrigerators, stoves and couches. The company has become a leading delivery service in this area as traditional shipping companies including FedEx Corp. (FDX - Get Report) and United Parcel Services Inc. (UPS - Get Report) typically can't deliver bulky items like that when they're ordered online.
Home Depot would be smart to acquire XPO as its expertise in heavy duty freight and logistics would "fit like a glove" in the Home Depot franchise, said GBH Insights analyst Daniel Ives.
Ives said XPO could command between $105 and $115 a share, representing a 20% premium to its current share price. He added that he doesn't believe Amazon will pursue XPO, but that CEO Jeff Bezos will focus on building its distribution capabilities "organically" and through acquisitions in 2018. XPO shares closed up 3.5% to $92.17 on Wednesday.
For whoever is eyeing XPO, Ives noted that the company would bring white glove service to last mile delivery, which has become key for many e-commerce firms. White glove service often involves deliverymen handling the unpacking and installation of larger consumer goods.
Amazon already has white glove service for bigger ticket items like electronics, but has been expanding into oversize product categories, like private furniture brands. Amazon has "intentions of becoming a major player" in furniture and home furnishings, which will require more robust white glove services and a dedicated logistics provider, said Brittain Ladd, a supply chain consultant who worked on global expansion for Amazon's grocery segment, AmazonFresh.
"XPO Logistics is one of the best, if not the best, logistics company providing such services through their network of 11 distribution and fulfillment centers offering two-day delivery to nearly 90% of the USA," Ladd explained. "If Home Depot doesn't acquire XPO, I won't be surprised to see another company step in and acquire XPO."
Aside from Amazon and Home Depot, XPO might be a good fit for Walmart Inc. (WMT - Get Report) , FedEx, UPS, Alibaba Holding Group Ltd.'s (BABA - Get Report) JD.com Inc. or even Swedish home goods company IKEA Group.
Even if Home Depot or another retailer is eyeing an acquisition of XPO, Amazon could probably outbid them all in an effort to "single-handedly dominate" the last-mile logistics space, said Macquarie analyst James Clement.
"That said, Amazon has the deepest pockets among global corporations so [it] will likely get XPO if it wants it badly enough," Clement added.
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