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Wal-Mart: Discount Store, Discounted Stock?

July 20, 2005 | About:

Wal-Mart: Discount Store, Discounted Stock?

As GuruFocus updates the stock buys and sells of gurus, Wal-Mart (WMT), the discount retail giant, stands out as the stock with a high ValueRank (7 out of 10). Just recently, Clipper Fund’s James Gipson and T. Rowe Price Equity Income Fund’s Brian Rogers bought Wal-Mart.

Oakmark’s legendary fund manager Bill Nygren was the first guru that bought Wal-Mart. He bought at price of $53 a year ago. Bill Ruane, the Graham-and-Doddsville superinvestor recognized by Warren Buffett, bought about 700,000 shares Wal-Mart at similar price in the fourth quarter of 2004. As the stock price drifted down, he added another 380,000 shares, bringing his total holdings to 1.1 million shares. In the last quarter, James Gipson purchased 2.8 million shares of Wal-Mart for his famed Clipper Fund, and Brian Rogers bought 4 million shares of Wal-Mart for his $19 billion T. Rowe Price Equity Income Fund.

The price of Wal-Mart did not go up, not yet. If an investor buys Wal-Mart today, he pays a lower price than what Bill Nygren and Bill Ruane had paid. If he is patient enough and holds the stock until the price appreciates (finally), he will beat these best investors on this investment.

Is Wal-Mart a good buy? It is certainly a much better buy than it was 5 years ago, when the stock was priced at $70 and a price/earnings ratio of 55. During the last 5 years Wal-Mart’s earnings have doubled, but the stock has fallen to $49, giving it a P/E of 18.

This is what Bill Nygren has to say about Wal-Mart’s P/E ratio: “That’s the same earnings multiple as the market average, that only makes sense if you think Wal-Mart is an average company.” And he doesn’t. Wal-Mart is rapidly gaining market share in its grocery business, and profit margins for its Sam’s Club are improving. Bill Nygren also likes Wal-Mart’s share-repurchasing plan: “We expect to see an increase in share price on a decreasing share base,” he says. “And obviously, the company believes that the stock at this price is an attractive investment.”

Going to Wal-Mart for its “Everyday Low Prices”? Check if its stock is also low priced!


Rating: 3.0/5 (2 votes)

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