LAKELAND, FL and AUSTIN, TX
Whole Foods shares are still on the rise today following rumors that privately-held Publix could possibly acquire the specialty grocer. Could there be some truth to these rumors…or is it all just hearsay?
Whole Foods’ stock rose 4.7% to $40.19 in heavy volume on Thursday and options volume surged, according to Reuters, citing options analytics firm Trade Alert. As of 1:21 PM ET Friday, shares have increased 2.1% to $40.91. Interest in options was triple the normal amount in early trading, said Trade Alert president Henry Schwartz, further fueling the unsubstantiated reports of a potential acquisition deal.
“Option flow reflects speculation that it may be possible, but there’s always two sides of the coin,” said Schwartz, according to Tampa Bay Times.
Financial media outlet Benzinga featured a headline claiming that Publix was currently in meetings and that Whole Foods was not answering phones at its headquarters. There was no confirmation that either is related to Publix’s potential bid for Whole Foods, however.
Tampa Bay Times also reports that financial commentary and analysis website Briefing.com heard chatter that Publix is interested in Whole Foods. Still, it also said, “we would be skeptical of the rumor.”
When asked to comment, Publix spokesman Brian West stated, “It is a rumor, and we do not comment on rumors.” Similarly, Jeremy Jones, Florida spokesman for Whole Foods, said the rumors had no merit.
It would be interesting to imagine, however. Looking at these two maps from Big Think, a Publix acquisition would allow the company to have a stronger national footprint along with Whole Foods’ selection of organic merchandise. Publix has approximately 1,077 stores in the Southeast, with 753 in Florida. Whole Foods has approximately 383 stores across the United States.
We have already reported earlier that Whole Foods is beefing up its expansion goals by moving into new and unexpected markets with “smaller and urban” stores in places such as Brooklyn and Boise. Could Florida be its next big target for further expansion? Check out our previous story, linked below.
Although nothing is confirmed at this point, this would have been the next huge acquisition of the year. I’m still skeptical, but with so many deals happening this year, we’ll just have to wait and see.
Stay tuned to DeliMarket TV for continuous updates on this story.