Publix Stock: 3 Great Ways To Invest In Grocery Stores

Although Publix is not a publicly-traded company, there is a Publix stock. The stock is available to Publix employees and a few other individuals.

Publix Supermarkets Inc. is the fifth-largest grocer and fourth-largest standalone supermarket operator in the United States.

In September 2021, Publix operated 1,283 supermarkets, nine distribution centers, and 11 manufacturing facilities in seven states. Publix employed over 225,000 people in September 2021.

Most of Publix’s stores (827) are in Florida, where it dominates the grocery market. Publix also operates stores in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Statista estimates Publix had a 3.3% share of the US grocery business in 2017.

How To Buy Publix Stock
How To Buy Publix Stock

Publix Earnings

The last annual estimate for Publix’s retail sales was $36 billion in 2020. The pandemic has hurt Publix; its annual retail sales fell from $38.1 billion for 2019.

Publix reported quarterly revenues of $11.8 billion on June 26, 2021. The revenues grew by 3.9% in the same period in 2020.

Publix reported sales of $23.5 billion for the six months ending on June 26, 2021. The quarterly sales grew by 3.9% from $22.6 billion in the first six months of 2020.

Publix reported quarterly net earnings of $1 billion on June 26, 2021. The quarterly net earnings fell by 26.2% from $1.4 billion in the second quarter of 2020. The earnings fell because of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.

Publix Reputation

Publix has a reputation for high-quality products and excellent customer service. Many Florida residents love the sandwiches and other fresh foods from Publix’s delis and bakeries.

Political scandal damaged Publix’s reputation in early 2021. Some customers began boycotting Publix after The Wall Street Journal reported that Julie Jenkins Fancelli, an heir to Publix founder George W. Jenkins, donated $300,000 to the group staging the January 6, 2021 “Stop the Steal” rally for former President Donald J. Trump (R-Florida). The rally preceded the January 6 Riot in which radical Trump supporters overran the US Capitol.

The Publix management denies any connection with Trump and the rally, Reuters reports. They even issued this press release: “Mrs. Fancelli is not an employee of Publix Supermarkets, and is neither involved in our business operations nor does she represent the company in any way. We cannot comment on Mrs. Fancelli’s actions.”

Publix Stock Price

Although Publix is not a publicly-traded company, there is a Publix stock. The stock is available to Publix employees and a few other individuals, including George W. Jenkins’ heirs.

Employees and others can buy and sell Publix stock at $63.10 a share in private transactions. The share price rose from $61.30 a share. Publix shares offered $1.33 in earnings per share (EPS) on August 1, 2021. The EPS fell from $1.39 in 2020.

There are many Publix stockholders because Publix claims to be the largest employee-owned company in the United States. Employee-owned companies are rare in the United States. Most US companies are privately held or publicly traded.

Publix Ticker Symbol

There is no Publix ticker because the stock trades on no exchanges. That means you cannot purchase Publix stock through apps such as Robinhood and internet brokerages like Charles Schwab and eTrade.

There is no official ticker symbol for the company, but some websites give Publix the ticker symbol: PUSH. Most websites, however, give no financial information for Publix because it does not trade on exchanges. Typing PUSH into Stockrow, for example, produces information about a pharmaceutical company.

Publix Stock Dividend

Publix shares pay a quarterly dividend. The last Publix quarterly dividend was 37₵ per share paid on August 2, 2021.

The Publix quarterly dividend is growing. The dividend rose from 32₵ paid on February 1, 2021, and 30₵ paid on February 3, 2020. That means Publix’s dividend grew during the pandemic. Publix is an excellent dividend stock, which is a great deal for the company’s employees.

Information about the Publix dividend can be hard to find because Publix is not a publicly-traded stock. However, the Publix Stockholder website provides information about the dividend.

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Publix Competitors

You cannot buy Publix stock, but you can purchase shares in four of the five largest grocers in the United States. The food Industry identifies the five largest grocers in the United States as:

  1. Walmart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT)
  2. The Kroger Company Inc. (NYSE: KR)
  3. Albertson’s Companies Inc. (NYSE: ACI)
  4. Ahold Delhaize or Koninklijke Ahold N.V. ADR (OTCMKTS: ADRNY)
  5. Publix Supermarkets Inc. (PUSH)

However, only three of those companies, Kroger, Walmart, and Albertsons, trade on American stock exchanges. Ahold Delhaize trades on European exchanges under different ticker symbols.

The grocery business in the United States is fragmented and highly competitive. However, the five largest grocers have enormous shares of the market. Walmart (WMT) accounts for 26% of US grocery sales, Food Industry estimates.

The concentrated market gives some companies practical monopolies over the grocery market in some areas. Walmart could have a 90% share of the grocery market in a few regions, Food Industry claims.

Such monopolies can give companies steady revenues and streams of cash. That is why Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) owned 62 million shares of Kroger (KR) in August 2021.

Publix has a near-monopoly over the grocery business in Florida, but it is not publicly traded. However, you can invest in Publix competitors that have near monopolies on the grocery business in other regions.

Publix Competitors You Can Invest In

Some of the publicly traded Publix competitors that you can invest in include:

Kroger Stores Inc. (NYSE: KR)

Kroger is America’s largest standalone grocery store operator and second-largest grocer with a 10.1% share of the US grocery business in 2017, Statista estimates.

The company operated 2,742 supermarkets and supercenters in 35 US states in January 2021, Statista estimates. Kroger also operates 44 distribution centers, 36 food processing plants, 319 jewelry stores, 2,2270 pharmacies, and  1,537 supermarket fuel centers (filling stations).

Kroger operates many of America’s most popular supermarket brands. The Kroger Brands include roger, Ralphs, Dillons, Smith’s, King Soopers, Fry’s, QFC, City Market, Owen’s, Jay C, Pay Less, Baker’s, Gerbes, Harris Teeter, Pick ‘n Save, Metro Market, Mariano’s, Fred Meyer, Food 4 Less, and the Foods Co. Kroger is the largest grocer in several American cities including Denver, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Dallas, Fort Worth, Atlanta, Richmond, Norfolk, Cincinnati, and Salt Lake City.

Ocado Group PLC (LON: OCDO) and Kroger plan to build 20 customer fulfillment centers (CFCs) across the United States. The CFCs are next-generation distribution centers where robots pick and pack online grocery orders for delivery by drivers.

The first Kroger and Ocado CFC is in operation in Monroe, Ohio. Inside the CFC, over 1,000 robots pull orders. The privately held grocery delivery service Instacart and Kroger offer 25,000 delivery items through 2,750 stores through the Kroger Delivery Now app, Supermarket News reports. The Ocado CFCs will support Kroger Delivery Now services. Supermarket News claims Kroger Delivery Now could serve up to 50 million customers.

Kroger is a favorite of Warren Buffett because of its monopoly characteristics and low price. Berkshire Hathaway purchased 10.7 million shares of Kroger and holds 62 million shares in the third quarter of 2021, Yahoo! Finance estimates.

I think Buffett buys Kroger because of the low price. Kroger shares were trading at $40.94 on September 17, 2021. Buffett also likes the dividend Kroger will pay a 21₵ quarterly dividend on December 1, 2021. The dividend grew from 18₵ on June 1, 2021. Kroger shares offered an annual dividend of 75₵ and a dividend yield of 1.84% on September 17, 2021.

Kroger reported quarterly revenues of $31.682 billion on July 31, 2021. The quarterly revenues grew from $30.489 billion on July 31, 2020. Stockrow estimates that Kroger’s revenues grew by 35.45% in the quarter ending on May 31, 2021, and 6.59% in the quarter ending on July 31, 2021.

Kroger makes money from its supermarkets. Kroger reported a quarterly gross profit of $6.768 billion and a quarterly operating income of $838 million on July 31, 2021. The quarterly gross profit fell from $6.938 billion on July 31, 2020, and the quarterly operating income rose from $820 million on July 31, 2020.

Kroger’s supermarkets are generating less cash. The ending cash flow fell from $94 million on July 31, 2020, to -$84 million on July 31, 2021. The operating cash flow fell from $1.237 billion on July 31, 2020, to $867 million on July 31, 2021. Kroger can generate enormous amounts of cash; it reported a quarterly ending cash flow of $2.309 billion on April 30, 2021. Kroger’s cash and short-term investments fell from $3.878 billion on July 31, 2020, to $3.28 billion on July 31, 2021.

Kroger’s debt, on the other hand, is falling. The total debt fell from $20.626 billion on August 31, 2020, to $14.155 billion on July 31, 2021. Kroger finished the pandemic with less debt. The company is paying off enormous amounts of debt Kroger reported a quarterly financing cash flow of -$520 million on July 31, 2021.

Buffett owns Kroger because it offers an enormous amount of value for a low share price. Kroger had $48.461 billion in Total Assets on July 31, 2021. One reason for that value is Kroger’s primary product: food. Buffet believes that people need to eat, and they will buy food from Kroger.

Kroger has growth potential because of the CFCs and Kroger’s ability to cook food in its stores. Most Kroger supermarkets have delis and bakeries that cook foods such as soup and fried chicken. Some Kroger Marketplace supercenters contain pizzerias, Asian cafes, and other eateries.

I think Kroger could grow by offering hot food and grocery delivery at the same time. A person could order a pizza, laundry detergent, and milk from Kroger through Instacart. I think Kroger could be one of the few companies that could compete with Amazon (AMZN).

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Walmart (WMT)

The discount store giant Walmart is the largest grocery retailer in the United States.

Walmart sells groceries through its supercenters, combination discount stores and supermarkets, and Neighborhood Markets. The company owns Sam’s Club is a warehouse club store similar to Costco.

Walmart sales comprised 26% of the US grocery market in 2017, Statista estimates. Some observers claim Walmart is the largest grocer in many US markets.

In March 2021, Walmart operated 3,750 supercenters, 799 Neighborhood markets, and 374 discount stores in the United States, Statista estimates. Walmart had a footprint of 4,743 stores in the USA in March 2021. That number fell to 4,740 stores in September 2021, Walmart’s website reports.

The company also operates 599 Sam’s Club stores in the United States. Outside the United States, Walmart operates 5,185 stores under 48 banners in 24 countries.

To support its stores, Walmart operates over 150 distribution centers. Walmart uses 6,100 semi-tractors and 61,000 trailers to supply its stores with merchandise.

Many Walmart stores are in rural and Midwestern communities that have not shared in America’s economic recovery. Walmart faces stiff competition from Kroger, Amazon, Costco Wholesale (NASDAQ: COST), and discount grocers such as Aldi in some markets.

Walmart is the largest e-commerce company in the United States with a 7.1% market share in February 2021, Statista estimates. The company is far behind online Amazon (AMZN), which had a 40.4% market share in February 2021.

Walmart’s delivery capabilities rival Amazon’s, but it has had a hard time convincing Americans to use its digital solutions. Notably, Walmart’s online prices are often lower than Amazon’s.

One problem Walmart faces is the popularity of the Amazon Prime subscription service. Consumer Intelligence Partners claims Prime had 153 million members in the United States in June 2021. Consumer Intelligence Partners estimates Prime’s US membership grew by 25.4% between June 2020 and June 2021.

Prime threatens Walmart because it allows people to order tens of thousands of items with no delivery charges. Amazon is also experimenting with grocery delivery services in some markets. Prime membership fees accounted for 6.5% of Amazon’s revenues or $25.21 billion in 2020, Digital Commerce 360 estimates.

Walmart is trying to compete with Prime through the Walmart+ subscription service. Deutsche Bank estimates Walmart+ had 32 million members in September 2021. Walmart+ offers free delivery, grocery delivery, and prescription drug discounts to subscribers.

Walmart makes enormous amounts of money. It reported quarterly revenues of $141.048 billion, a quarterly gross profit of $35.865 billion, and a quarterly income of $7.354 billion on July 31, 2021.

Walmart grew during the pandemic; the quarterly revenues rose from $137.742 billion on July 31, 2020. The quarterly gross profit rose from $35.053 billion on July 31, 2020, and the quarterly operating income rose from $6.059 billion on July 31, 2020. Stockrow estimates Walmart’s revenues grew by 2.4% in the quarter ending on July 31, 2021.

Walmart can generate enormous amounts of cash. It reported a quarterly operating cash flow of $9.565 billion on July 31, 2021. There was a $22.894 billion ending cash flow on April 30, 2021; the ending cash flow fell to -$13 million on July 31, 2021.

Walmart finished the pandemic with more cash and less debt. The cash and short-term investments rose from $16.906 billion on July 31, 2020, to $22.831 billion on July 31, 2021. Walmart’s total debts fell from $60.494 billion on July 31, 2020, to $60.879 billion on July 31, 2021.

The numbers show Walmart is a healthy company with enormous value. Walmart had $238.552 billion in Total Assets on July 31, 2021. The Total Assets grew from $237.382 billion on July 31, 2020.

Many people will consider Walmart a value investment because of its share price. Mr. Market paid $144.73 for its shares on September 17, 2021. The share price rose from $137.07 on September 21, 2021.

The Walmart dividend is also attractive. Walmart will pay a 55₵ quarterly dividend on January 3, 2021. The quarterly dividend grew from 54₵ on January 4, 2020. Walmart offered an annual dividend of $2.19 and a dividend yield of 1.51% on September 17, 2021.

Walmart, like Kroger, is an excellent alternative to Publix because of the stock price, growth, cash, and dividends.

Alternatives to Publix Stock

I consider Walmart and Kroger the best alternative investments to Publix. There are several other grocery stocks people that people who dislike Walmart and Kroger can investigate.

Albertsons Companies Inc. (NYSE: ACI) operates over 2,200 supermarkets under 20 brand names in 34 US states and the District of Columbia. Food Industry estimates Albertsons was the third-largest grocer in the United States in 2021.

Albertsons claims to operate over 1,700 pharmacies, 400 fuel centers, 23 distribution centers, and 20 food and beverage plants. Albertsons’ brands include Safeway, Albertsons, Lucky, Vons, Star, Shaw’s, Randalls, and Jewel Osco.

Albertsons has a footprint that rivals Kroger, and its shares are cheap. Mr. Market paid $30.10 for Albertsons on September 17, 2021. Albertsons makes some money. It reported $21.269 billion in quarterly revenues, $6.191 billion in quarterly gross profits, and a quarterly operating income of $687 million on May 31, 2021.

Ahold Delhaize or Koninklijke Ahold N.V. ADR (OTCMKTS: ADRNY) is a company that operates supermarkets in the United States, the Netherlands, Belgium, Central and Southeastern Europe, and Indonesia. Food Industry lists Ahold Delhaize as the fourth-largest grocer in the United States.

Ahold Delhaize operates the Giant, Giant Eagle, Food Lion, and Stop & Shop supermarket chains in the United States. Ahold Delhaize stock is cheap; shares traded on European markets at $33.23 on September 17, 2021.

Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) is the wild-card in US grocery markets. The Edge by Ascential market research firm predicts Amazon’s online global grocery sales will grow from $14.5 billion in 2021 to $26.7 billion in 2027. Food Industry listed Amazon subsidiary Whole Foods Market as the 10th largest US grocer in 2017.

Amazon is developing two new grocery stores, Fresh and Go. Fresh grocery stores are now open in Los Angeles, Seattle, and Washington, DC. They plan other Fresh stores for Pennsylvania, Chicago, and Maryland. Unlike Whole Foods Markets, the Fresh stores offer a selection of regular groceries, including national brands such as Coca-Cola and Kellogg’s cereals.

They are using the Fresh stores to test new technologies, including smart Dash carts, that allow consumers to buy merchandise as they shop. That eliminates checkout lines and reduces the need for clerks.

Amazon is a serious player in the US grocery market, but it will take years or decades for it to build a footprint capable of competing with Publix, Kroger, Walmart, and Albertsons. Amazon (AMZN) could be a good long-term growth stock for those willing to pay its high share prices. AMZN shares were trading at $3,462.52 on September 17, 2021.

You cannot buy Publix stock, but today’s stock market offers excellent alternatives.


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