Is Warren Buffett Right about Kroger?

Buffett is showing his contrarian views here by rejecting the conventional wisdom that Apple is the future and Kroger is the past. Additionally, Buffett is selling an expensive stock for cash. Mr. Market was paying $324.95 a share for Apple on 14 February 2020. I think Buffett thinks Mr. overprices Apple, and I agree.

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Kroger is a Value Investment in Retail

The risks Kroger is taking are great, but those risks are far smaller than the gamble Jeff Bezos took on robots. Amazon proves the fulfillment center and robot strategy works.

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Kroger and the Future of Grocery

Kroger wants Ocado’s help because its revenues are shrinking. Specifically, Kroger reports revenues of $121.162 billion for 2018. That number is down from $122.662 billion in 2017.

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Is GrubHub a Threat to Kroger (KR)

GrubHub threatens Kroger (NYSE: KR) because of the size of its footprint and growth. For instance, GrubHub claims to serve over 1,700 American cities and 95,000 restaurants.

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Kroger and Walgreens Team Up for Pickup

A Kroger/Walgreen hybrid is an obvious use of the capabilities provided by Ocado. A robotic fulfillment center could obviously support both Kroger supermarkets and Walgreen drugstores.

Moreover, a Walgreen drugstore is a logical addition to the 2,782 supermarkets Kroger operates. In addition, Kroger food brands like Simple Truth will be a logical addition to Walgreens inventory.
Importantly, Kroger operates 37 food manufacturing facilities across the United States. Therefore, Kroger offers Walgreens a source of low-priced food products to counter Amazon’s discounting.
Equally important is Kroger’s ability to provide hot takeout meals, meal kits, deli foods, and hot entrees to Walgreen. Markedly, Kroger has a good relationship with the delivery specialist Instacart.
Additionally, an obvious use for Instacart is delivery of Walgreens prescriptions. America’s growing legion of senior citizens will be obvious customers for prescription delivery.

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Kroger Tests Self-Driving Vehicle

In addition, Nuro’s self-driving Toyota Prius cars will make some deliveries. Delivery reportedly costs $5.96 per order and is only available from one Fry’s store.
This is the second self-driving vehicle delivery effort associated with Kroger. The Ocado Group Group PLC (LON: OCDO) is reportedly testing a self-driving delivery van in London. Kroger purchased 6% of Ocado last year.

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Can Kroger (NYSE: KR) Survive?

Normally nobody would ask if a company that reported $122.662 billion in revenues last year can survive. We are not

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Ocado tests Driverless Grocery Delivery, Supervalu Teams with Instacart

The driverless truck cruises down the street while a delivery person on foot takes the orders to the front door. The truck called the Cargo Pod was tested in London’s Royal Arsenal Riverside neighborhood, Endgadget reported. The vehicle is rather small and silly in appearance – it looks like a milk float to Brits and a large ATV to North Americans

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Is Sprouts Doomed?

Delivery can destroy Sprouts because it keeps customers away from Sprouts where they can see its low prices.

Traditional supermarkets depend heavily from all the spur-of-the moment purchases from shoppers in the store. How many times have you walked into a supermarket to “grab a couple of things” and ended up pushing a full shopping cart out the door?

Online shoppers only get what is on their shopping list, because they are not in the supermarket to get tempted by that extra stuff. That is good for customers’ pocketbooks but bad for Sprouts’ bottom line.

The traditional supermarket is a marketing machine cleverly disguised as a food store. Grocers fill their stores with temptations such as endcaps, free samples, delis, and cafes. The online shopper sees none of that stuff.

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