Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Business

Talk of Publix buying Whole Foods not likely to lead to anything

Will Publix buy its crunchy, more pricey competitor, Whole Foods Market?

That was the rumor swirling on Wall Street late this week when Whole Foods' stock rose and options activity surged.

Most likely, it will end there, the buzz more indicative of the strength of both grocers rather than any pending deal.

"We see rumors like these 20 to 30 times a day, and very few of them end up coming to fruition," said Gavin Maguire, a senior analyst at Briefing.com, which provides financial commentary and analysis.

Briefing.com reported Thursday, "Hearing chatter that privately held Publix is interested in WFM." By day's end, Whole Foods' stock was up 4.7 percent in heavy trading and option activity was high. On Friday afternoon, the stock (WFM) was up about 2.2 percent.

Maguire suspects the speculation is rooted in Whole Foods' recent performance. Whole Foods, while a market leader in a growing segment, got clobbered on a poor earnings report in May, sending its stock price down 20 percent and forcing the company to ratchet down its 2014 forecast.

"For a long time, Whole Foods had the field to ourselves," Co-CEO John Mackey said during a conference call with investors and analysts. "That was nice, but we don't anymore."

Traders still bullish on Whole Foods started buying stock and options at the low price, drawing analysts' attention. To explain the furor, talk surfaced about a potential buyout. And who was in a good position to buy Whole Foods' 383 stores?

None other than Publix, a privately held chain that did $7.8 billion in sales during the first quarter of the year, up 4 percent over last year.

"All the clues are there that this would kind of make sense," Maguire said. "But you see this kind of activity all over the market, especially in a stock that got crushed."

Both Publix and Whole Foods had no comment about the rumor. Jeremy Jones, Florida spokesman for Whole Foods, based in Austin, Texas, said it had "no merit."

Publix's purchase of Whole Foods would be a leap for the Lakeland-based chain. The chain has 1,077 stores, all clustered in the Southeast and the majority (753) in Florida. Whole Foods has 383 stores nationwide, in Canada and the United Kingdom.

That's not to say Publix wouldn't want to eliminate Whole Foods as a competitor. Whole Foods — along with Fresh Market, Trader Joe's and other specialty grocers — is aggressively trying to enlarge its market share through price cuts and more affordable items. Having one fewer competitor would give Publix that much more energy for dealing with its main adversary, Walmart.

Susan Thurston can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 225-3110.

 
Comments
Water Street Tampa developers seek artist and design for $600,000 outdoor art near USF med school

Water Street Tampa developers seek artist and design for $600,000 outdoor art near USF med school

TAMPA — Water Street Tampa announced Wednesday it is seeking artists and proposals for a big piece of outdoor art for the plaza between one of the $3 billion project’s office buildings and the new building for the University of South Florida Morsani ...
Updated: 23 minutes ago
Dow Jones closes above 26,000 for first time

Dow Jones closes above 26,000 for first time

The latest on developments in financial markets (All times local):4 p.m.Stocks are closing higher on Wall Street, sending the Dow Jones industrial average to its first close above 26,000 points.The Dow had traded above that level on Tuesday but wound...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Pasco goats somehow make yoga less weird

Pasco goats somehow make yoga less weird

DADE CITY — More than 36 million Americans practice yoga, but many people still feel intimidated by the ancient method of controlling the body and mind through physical and mental practices.Perhaps it is the daunting terms or confusing poses that cau...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Apple to build 2nd campus, hire 20,000 in $350B pledge

Apple to build 2nd campus, hire 20,000 in $350B pledge

Associated PressSAN FRANCISCO — Apple is planning to build another corporate campus and hire 20,000 workers during the next five years as part of a $350 billion commitment to the U.S. economy. The pledge announced Wednesday is an offshoot from the sw...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Carb bonanza: Three new bakeries open, including an Australian bakery, new La Segunda

Carb bonanza: Three new bakeries open, including an Australian bakery, new La Segunda

LA SEGUNDAA Tampa Bay giant has stirred and is on the move. La Segunda Central Bakery, a family-owned Ybor City institution for nearly 103 years (they celebrated that birthday Jan. 15) and the largest producer of Cuban bread in the world, will open a...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Behold: The fastest cars at this year’s Detroit Auto Show

Behold: The fastest cars at this year’s Detroit Auto Show

DETROIT — Despite all the hype surrounding auto shows, let’s get real for a moment: The majority of the vehicles on display will end up ferrying kids to soccer practice, embarking on road trips and commuting between work and home each day.That’s unde...
Updated: 5 hours ago
This is why clothing companies want to know about your weight, jobs and past pregnancies

This is why clothing companies want to know about your weight, jobs and past pregnancies

The first step for a shopper buying a suit at the fast-growing menswear retailer Indochino is sharing his personal information: A salesperson armed with an iPad measures nearly everything on his body, from the distance between his belly button and re...
Updated: 6 hours ago
TECO, Duke linemen to help restore power in Puerto Rico

TECO, Duke linemen to help restore power in Puerto Rico

TAMPA — As more than 1.5 million people in Puerto Rico remain powerless, local linemen are stepping up and flying out to the island to help restore electricity. On Wednesday morning, 25 linemen boarded a flight from Tampa International Airport to Pu...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Pasco Business Digest for Jan. 19

Updated: 5 hours ago
Attorney accused of secretly videotaping women agrees to permanent disbarment

Attorney accused of secretly videotaping women agrees to permanent disbarment

By SUSAN TAYLOR MARTINST. PETERSBURG — Attorney James Patrick Stanton, accused of secretly videotaping nude and partially clothed female employees of a Tampa company, has agreed to never practice law again in Florida.Before a brief hearing today, Sta...
Updated: 5 hours ago