Is now a good time to consider Walgreen (WAG)? It appears so, given the company's revenue outlook: WAG is a bottom-fisher's special.
Most likely, giant drug store chain Walgreen's revenue will rise about 5-6 percent in FY20112 boosted by the addition of about 250 net new store openings.
Walgreen's front-store traffic trend in this more than 8,300-store chain should receive a modest tailwind from store remodelings, and back-store (pharmacy) margins should be adequate, aided higher-margin generic drugs, and other new merchandise.
What's more, Walgreen locates many of its stores in high-traffic spots, which means WAG is well-positioned when the U.S. economy returns to normal monthly job growth. True, the U.S. economy is this expansion has not achieved the classic 200,000-plus monthly job growth, but the view from here argues it will in 2012, and that bodes well for WAG's traffic.
Further, Walgreen's sale of its pharmacy benefit management company to Catalyst Health Solutions for $525 million in June 2011 will allow WAG to concentrate on its core operations. In the cautious era of the frugal consumer, for companies, the mantra is, make the best, get rid of the rest. Walgreen's shares should vector toward $42-44 in 2012.
The Thomson Reuters First Call FY2012/FY2013 EPS estimates for WAG are $2.89 to $3.23 and each EPS estimate looks about 5 percent low, according to my analysis. Moreover, with a P/E of about 11, Walgreen practically invites capital, if you can tolerate moderate risk.
Technical Analysis: Walgreen's stock chart formed a bear hug in July, swooning from $43 to about $31.50 in October. However, that's been the low point, as the stock has failed to drop below $30 support, and the argument forwarded here is that a bottom is in place at/near $31.
Stock Category: Walgreen is ideal for investors who want a comparatively safe, dependable company and stock investment. Don't look for gargantuan growth with Walgreen There's only a 5 percent chance you'll lose your entire investment with WAG over a 10-year period. Walgreen pays a 22-cent annual dividend.
2012 Outlook: I view WAG as a long-term play, but if investors are looking to sell WAG within the year, it's probably best to take your profits after it rises to $38-39, if it fails to clear $40.
Stock Analysis: Walgreen is a moderate-risk stock. If an investor has already purchased the company's shares, I'd hold them. If not, I'd consider buying a 50 percent position in WAG now, and another 25 percent in one month, if the U.S. economy doesn't worsen substantially. Under any circumstance, I wouldn't buy more than 75 percent of my WAG position before December 2011 and I'd put a sell/stop loss at: $17.
Disclosure: L.C. Jacobs of New York, N.Y. reviews stocks on a quarterly, semi-annual, and annual basis.
L.C. Jacobs has no positions in stocks reviewed, but does own federal, municipal, and corporate bonds.