Walmart Inc (NYSE: WMT ) is struggling to compete with Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN ) online. It's no secret - especially after Walmart reported lower-than-expected online sales growth last quarter. But investors have to remember one key point. Walmart is still the global king of retail. And WMT stock is still a buy.
Retail stocks have been hit or miss this year. Retailers are struggling with increasingly picky consumers - who are increasingly choosing to shop online. But while Amazon's online dominance is frequently touted (they control 44% of all U.S. online sales), e-commerce still only makes up 9.1% of all U.S. retail sales.
In fact, Amazon only accounts for about 4% of total U.S. retail sales, compared to roughly 17.3% for Walmart. (Note: Amazon is so popular in the financial media it made researching Walmart's total percentage of U.S. sales a bit more tedious than it needed to be.)
Looking at a chart of WMT stock, you'd think the company was failing. The shares are down more than 31% since the end of January, putting WMT stock at its lowest point since October. This performance just doesn't track with Walmart's global dominance of the retail sector.
But now is the time to buy WMT shares. The stock is oversold and trading near technical support at $82. The $82 region is home to prior resistance, and should provide a base for a rebound going forward.
Furthermore, bearish sentiment is heavily overdone on Walmart stock. Thomson/First Call reports that only 15 of the 32 analysts following the shares rate them a "buy" or better. The 12-month price target rests at $105.28. In short, WMT stock has plenty of room for upgrades and ample room to rally before valuation becomes a concern.
What's more, there is a driver for a WMT stock rally just over the horizon. Walmart will report earnings ahead of the open on May 17. Wall Street is expecting a profit of $1.12 per share on revenue of $120.47 billion. EarningsWhisper puts the whisper number a bit higher at $1.15 per share.
Options traders agree that WMT stock is poised for a rebound. Currently, the June put/call open interest ratio stands at 0.49, with calls more than doubling puts among back-month options. Peak call OI for the series numbers 29,000 contracts at the important $100 strike.
While $100 seems like a far cry for WMT stock right now, June implieds are pricing in a sizable rally for Walmart shares over the next month. Currently, implied volatility expects a move of nearly 6% for WMT heading into June expiration. This places the upper bound at $87.87, while the lower bound lies at $78.13.
2 Trades for WMT Stock
Call Spread: Buying WMT stock right now is a solid play, but you have achieve higher returns with WMT options if you don't want to own the shares. For instance, the June $85/$90 bull call spread has a potential return of more than 180%.
At last check, this spread was offered at $1.31, or $131 per pair of contracts. Breakeven lies at $86.31, while a maximum profit of $3.69, or $369 per pair of contracts, is possible if WMT stock closes at or above $90 when June options expire.
Put Sell: If placing a big bullish bet on WMT stock doesn't sit well with you, then a out-of-the-money put is another way to profit on the shares. Currently, the June $80 put sell stands an excellent chance of finishing out of the money.
At last check, this option was bid at $1.83, or $183 per contract. A sold put allows you keep the premium as long as WMT stock closes above $80 at expiration. On the downside, if WMT falls below $80 prior to expiration, you could be assigned 100 shares of WMT stock for $80 each, which could be quite costly. That said, owning WMT stock at $80 is a steal given the company's long-term growth prospects.
As of this writing, Joseph Hargett did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
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