Looking Ahead to 2017: Tread Cautiously Into Big-Box Retail Investments

By Motley Fool StaffMarketsFool.com

It's the end of 2016, a wild and unpredictable year, and The Motley Fool'sIndustry Focus: Consumer Goods podcast is celebrating with a look ahead into 2017.

In this segment, analyst Vincent Shen and contributor Asit Sharma discuss revenue headwinds facing popular big-box retail stocks like Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT), Nordstrom, Inc. (NYSE: JWN), Macy's, Inc. (NYSE: M), and Target Corporation (NYSE: TGT), and why investors should be sure of their rationales when buying such names in 2017.

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A full transcript follows the video.

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This podcast was recorded on Dec. 19, 2016.

Vincent Shen: Is there anything in terms of trends, companies, announcements you're expecting, anything you're expecting to see, or anything you'll be watching closely for the new year?

Asit Sharma: Sure. I have two. One is for investors: Be cautious around big-box retailers. I want to read our listeners the last trailing-12-months' revenue of some stores you'll be familiar with, ticker symbols you will know. The first is Wal-Mart. Its total revenue increased over the last 12 months, up 0.5%; Nordstrom up 1.4%; Macy's down 3.5%; Target down 4.5%; Amazon.com up 13%. (laughs) There's a simplistic conclusion that we can draw from this -- that Amazon is taking market share and revenue growth share away from the traditional big box retailers. We've been hearing this for years. But I want to point out that, very presciently, Starbucks'soon-to-be-retired CEO, Howard Schultz, said two years ago that we are going to see a real market transformation in the next -- I think he pegged it at one to two years -- that we're going to see a decline in physical store visits for retail stores, we're going to see online retail ramp up. So, while the trend has been there for several years, and we've all participated in that by buying more things online, I think 2016 for me was the year where it really became apparent in the growth that online retailing has had in this past year. Looking ahead to 2017, if you're going to buy a big-box retailer, if you're going to go out and buy a Macy's or a Nordstrom, or even a Wal-Mart, which has diversified into groceries, be careful, and make sure you have a persuasive reason to buy that stock, and that the management team has a strategy to compete online. Of these, I look at Wal-Mart and I think, that strategy is evolving pretty well, and they've seen some progress with their acquisition of Jet.com. So, that's one trend that I want investors to join me in looking at in 2017.

Asit Sharma has no position in any stocks mentioned. Vincent Shen has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon.com and Starbucks. The Motley Fool recommends Nordstrom. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.