Rite Aid Stock Sits Below a Buck As Investors Search for a Pulse

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Analysts continue searching for a pulse at Rite Aid (NYSE: RAD ), the embattled drug store chain. Even though quarterly sales are more than $5.4 billion, the RAD stock price has been below $1 per share since December.

Rite Aid Stock Sits Below a Buck As Investors Search for a Pulse

Source: Mike Mozart via Flickr

As the market cap hovers just above $802 million, management has proposed a reverse split of as much as 1:20 to buy time. With that time, Rite Aid is repositioning itself as a "wellness store," supported by a continuing partnership with GNC Holdings (NYSE: GNC ), which offers a "store within a store" for its vitamins and supplements.

CEO John Standley insists his chain is "healthy and relevant" in markets where it competes, mainly Pennsylvania and California, and it has a new CEO at its EnvisionRX pharmacy benefit manager.

Failed M&A Stripped Assets

Two failed mergers in recent years have left Rite Aid a shadow of its former self. The company transferred more than 1,600 stores to Walgreens Boots Alliance (NYSE: WBA ) last year for $3.6 billion , after a long-running effort to sell the whole company to Walgreens collapsed under the objection of regulators. But even after that move, it still has over $3.4 billion in long-term debt.

Rite Aid then tried to merge with privately held Albertsons , which would have taken that grocer public. But that deal collapsed in August after some big RAD stock holders objected to the price .

Walgreens has been converting some of the stores it bought to its own brand, closing others , while Rite Aid faces its own negative headlines as it tries to consolidate around its best performers. Other units are becoming dollar stores .

Once National, Now Regional

While CVS Health (NYSE: CVS ) and Walgreens sell for about half their annual sales, Rite Aid is worth less than 5% of its revenue. The chain is considered too small to compete. What was once a nationwide chain is now two regional chains, centered in Pennsylvania and California.

EnvisionRX is also thought to be in an impossible situation, as insurers like UnitedHealth (NYSE: UNH ) now have their own pharmacy benefit managers (PBM).

But there is potential value there, albeit more than the public market is now willing to pay. Shareholders rejected a deal just six months ago that would have given them 29% of a $24 billion company . Rite Aid did pay $2 billion for Envision, and it's bigger now than it was then.

While Cigna (NYSE: CI ) now owns ExpressScripts, UnitedHealth owns the former Catamaran, and Aetna is under CVS, Humana (NYSE: HUM ) still lacks a PBM and Anthem (NASDAQ: ANTM ) is trying to create one from scratch. Analysts insist a deal is there to be had , somewhere.

Rite Aid managers insist they need no deal. Add the debt to the equity, and Rite Aid has $4.5 billion in enterprise value. Analysts aren't expecting a profit for its current quarter, to be reported March 20, but a loss of three cents per share of RAD stock would be less than $40 million, on revenue of $5.56 billion. Management feels if it can turn a consistent profit, even on lower sales, the value should become clearer.

Bottom Line on Rite Aid Stock

Rite Aid is a minnow in a sea of sharks and it's going to be bought by someone.

CEO Standley, in place since 2010, has most of his compensation tied up in RAD stock. There's no good reason for the company to disappear, even after it has been taken apart.

If you're still stuck in Rite Aid stock, there's no reason not to wait and hope. But you really should have been paying attention earlier. Next time a buyer comes calling, hopefully Rite Aid can take the deal.

Dana Blankenhorn is a financial and technology journalist. He is the author of a new mystery thriller, The Reluctant Detective Finds Her Family , available now at the Amazon Kindle store. Write him at or follow him on Twitter at @danablankenhorn . As of this writing he owned no shares in companies mentioned in this article.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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