Walmart upgraded again as coronavirus buoys grocers

More people eating at home benefits discount retailer

Walmart was upgraded to outperform at Credit Suisse, its second move up this week, as the coronavirus pandemic drives shoppers to their local grocers to stock up on food and necessities.

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Oppenheimer also upgraded Walmart to outperform. Credit Suisse analysts led by Seth Sigman say there's even more to it.

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"We see this unfortunate period accelerating structural changes in consumer shopping, possibly by five-plus years, as they are introduced to new retailers and new shopping methods including online grocery and delivery, and further consolidate purchases at multi-category, multi-channel retailers," analysts wrote.

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They think there will be a shift to more food consumed at home in the long term.

"This change should be sticky, and favor Walmart, as it's invested in its infrastructure, technology and people, to evolve its model," analysts wrote. "In our view, Walmart is no longer just an early cycle, defensive, low-price player, as in prior cycles. Its market share growth story and this period should validate the changes it's made."

Credit Suisse raised its price target to $127 from $115. Walmart stock has jumped 6.4% in Wednesday trading, leading the Dow gainers. The stock's rise is lower than Kroger Co., which is up 8.5% for the day so far. Walmart stock has rallied 27% for the past year while the Dow Jones Industrial Average has slumped nearly 24% for the period.