In this column, Malcolm Berko teaches us how to grow a dollar tree.
BY MALCOLM BERKO
RELEASE: WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2017
Dollar Tree Growing
How to Grow a Dollar Tree
Dear Mr. Berko:
I recently discovered Dollar Tree, and its prices are awesome. I buy everything there that I can, and I figure we save $65 to $70 a week for my family of six. I’m thinking of buying 150 shares for our joint account and 50 shares for my individual retirement account. What do you think? — FD, Moline, Ill.
Dollar Tree (DLTR-$109) has Libby’s, Swanson, Armour, Del Monte, Nabisco, Hormel, Betty Crocker, Nestle, Progresso, Lance, Hunt’s, Welch’s, Jimmy Dean, Knorr, Campbell’s, Uncle Ben’s, Kraft, Hefty, Glad, Kleenex, Reynolds, Bounty, Colgate and Crest — plus brand-name soaps, deodorants and shampoos — all for a buck a package. DLTR also sells Tide, Clorox, Downy, Arm & Hammer, Pine Glo and Comet at a buck each. Rather than spend $5 on a birthday card, a Mother’s Day card, a get-well card or a Valentine’s Day card, you can find it for a buck each (sometimes two for a buck) at DLTR. And for a buck apiece, you can buy all sorts of office and school supplies — packages of markers, binders, folders, glue sticks, highlighters, ballpoints, notebooks, tape, weekly planners. Then there are brand-name durable hardware products, housewares, automotive supplies, apparel, accessories, batteries, towels and bedsheets for a dollar bill. Most Dollar Tree stores also have a frozen-food section with meats, vegetables and frozen dinners, all at a buck. At those prices, Washington should demand that everyone who uses food stamps make their purchases at a DLTR store. I guestimate the government could save billions a year in food stamp costs.
DLTR has 15,200 locations and 170,000 employees. In 2017, there has been an average of $1.4 million in sales per store. That comes to $22 billion in total revenues, up 10 percent from 2016. And management has finally worked out the integration kinks from its 2015 merger with Family Dollar Stores. The Family Dollar merger should produce over $300 million in cost synergy. Net profit margins have improved nicely in 2017. Long-term debt is falling. Return on capital continues to improve, as do operating margins. DLTR shares have increased by 44 points in 2017, from a low of $65 to $109, despite concerns about hard discounters — including Aldi, Lidl and Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods. Not even Walmart can sell a large tube of Crest or Colgate or deodorant such as Brut or Arrid for a buck each. Wall Street has liked the merger between Dollar Tree and Family Dollar. DLTR is one of the few retail names expanding its unit locations at a rapid pace. Management expects to add 1,500 new stores next year, and many on the Street think DLTR could have 20,000 locations by 2022, which might produce revenues of $30 billion, with expected gross margins of 35.5 percent, operating margins of 12.5 percent and earnings of $7.05 a share. And it seems that DLTR’s low prices make this company more nearly immune to inflation, recession and negative economic trends.
It appears that management has been able to blend value with convenience — important to millions of lower-income consumers. Resultantly, a growing number of lower-income consumers now consider DLTR as an occasional substitute for mass merchants. And management, looking 10 years into the future, believes that the present corporate structure could easily support 25,000 locations. That shouldn’t be difficult. Its location costs are in areas where real estate is not expensive and rent (averaging $11 a square foot) is below average. The typical retailer pays between $15 and $22 a square foot. Each Dollar Tree store has minimal employee needs — a general manager, one or two people at the register and another to stock the shelves. Imagine Walmart and Costco and other larger merchants that have 55 or more employees per store. As a result, DLTR’s average operating cost per square foot (not including depreciation) is between $36 and $40 and significantly lower than that of Target or Walmart.
DLTR observers believe that in the coming three to four years, the stock could trade at the $150-$170 level, which would be 20 to 21 times anticipated share earnings. I think it’s an outstanding long-term buy.
Please address your financial questions to Malcolm Berko, P.O. Box 8303, Largo, FL 33775, or email him at [email protected] To find out more about Malcolm Berko and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2017 CREATORS.COM
Kudlow: Economy Doing Great, Second Shutdown ‘Really Big Mistake’
White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow says that the country is squarely in the middle of the “v-shaped” recovery that everyone had hoped for, and despite reports of coronavirus hotspots popping up, shutting down the economy for a second time would make the “solution worse than the disease.”
Kudlow spoke on “Fox and Friends” yesterday and said that the White House is monitoring the jump in new coronavirus cases in states like California, Arizona, Texas and Florida, but added that as a country we now know what works to stop the spread, and just need to work together.
“We know the right mitigation, which has worked, and if we use that wholeheartedly and respect each other, I think we’ll get out of this pretty well and it will not stop the V-shaped recovery.”
On A Second Shutdown
He added that a second shut down would be a “really big mistake.”
“Another shutdown, in itself is controversial,” and would “do more harm than good,” said Kudlow before adding, “It would harm everyone. Not just businesses — the V-shaped recovery would give way. It would harm kids, we saw numbers on depression, drinking and so on… that solution would be worse than the disease.”
Kudlow highlighted the job growth in the last two months, and pointed out that jobs are being added back so quickly, workers are now quitting jobs to search for new, higher-paying ones.
He said there existed a “tremendous burst of jobs in May and June” and “tremendous record hiring rates. People are starting to quit their jobs again, which is extraordinary, in order to shop around for better jobs and wages.”
All those workers looking for jobs should bring down the unemployment rate to as low as 7% iby the end of the year, according to St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard.
That would be quite a rollercoaster ride for the job market, which has swung from a 50-year low unemployment rate of 3.5% earlier this year, to a post-WWII high of 14.7% in April.
U.S. Economy Doing “Very Well”
Appearing on “Closing Bell” yesterday, Bullard said “I think we’re tracking very well right now. Seems to me like by the end of the year you can get down certainly to single digits, probably even below 8%, maybe 7% by the end of the year.”
A surge in new cases could slow the re-hiring of workers across the country, but Bullard believes that wearing a mask will become standard and that will help bring back jobs and boost the economy.
“If we get to that situation, we’ll have the disease under control,” he said. “What I like about that scenario is it does not rely on a vaccine coming or a therapeutic coming. We can use simple, easy technology that we have today, get a good situation, get most of the production back to normal.”
Bulls See ‘Once-In-A-Lifetime’ Opportunity, Bears Worried Market Will Drop 10%
The coronavirus continues to be a battleground for stock market bulls and bears. This comes with the bulls pointing to an opportunity and an economy that is slowly recovering. It also comes with the Federal Reserve providing trillions of dollars in stimulus.
One of those bulls in Marc Lasry. He runs a $14-billion Avenue Capital investment firm and co-owns the Milwaukee Bucks NBA team.
He views the coronavirus pandemic as a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to make money.
“I know you’re not supposed to say this, but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You’re not going to see this again: Where you’ve actually got an economy that’s fine, and you’ve got a Fed pumping trillions of dollars in.”
Lasry’s firm specializes in providing funding to distressed businesses. The number of bankruptcies piling up means more business for him. Just today, men’s clothier Brooks Brothers filed for bankruptcy protection.
“You’ve got a lot of companies that are in trouble,” Lasry said, adding that today’s business environment is very similar to what he saw during the Great Recession. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime, but it happened 10 years ago, also.”
Is the US Better Prepared?
He adds that while the outlook for many forcibly closed businesses as part of the economic shutdown doesn’t look promising, the country as a whole has become better prepared to weather the storm compared to that of the Great Recession.
“Today we all know something,” he said. “We will be fine in two years. People will be back out, there will be a vaccine. The question is: How long will it take to get back to normal?”
If you ask Savita Subramanian, she says she’s not a bear, but does expect the stock market to end the year almost 10% lower than it is today.
Subramanian, the head of equity research at Bank of America, says the economy is facing a litany of headwinds.
“I wouldn’t paint myself as a bear but the risks between here and year end are completely to the downside,” Subramanian said. “We’ve had a reopening frenzy and now we’re seeing payback.”
The Negative Outlook
Unlike Lasry, Subramanian felt “really worried” that the fiscal and monetary stimulus used to boost the economy has pulled forward future growth.
She also points to a historically-expensive stock market. Three things had driven the gains of that market, and all of them might come to a grinding halt soon: globalization, falling interest rates, and tax cuts.
Subramanian says a Democratic victory in November will likely have the effect of reversing those market-friendly policies.
Stocks continue to climb higher despite surges in new coronavirus cases. With this, Subramanian said she doesn’t think the markets are assuming everything will be okay. She notes that “work from home” stocks are still doing very well. Also, she mentions that if investors thought we would be returning to offices and jobs anytime soon, those stocks should suffer.
She advises being overweight consumer staples, industrials, technology, and financial stocks.
Wall Street: Biden’s Tax Policies Would Harm The Stock Market
The November election just months away. With this, Wall Street has started to grapple with the unpleasant thoughts of a Democrat in the Oval Office and new tax policies.
President Trump steered the economy to record low unemployment and the stock market to all-time highs. However, the potential for major headwinds should Joe Biden decide to reverse many of the president’s policies has Wall Street fearing the worst.
What Would a “Blue Wave” Cause?
A “blue wave” with a Democratic president and both the House and Senate controlled by Democrats could mean tax hikes and other legislative actions that slow economic growth and drag on the stock market.
President Trump recently said that a Biden victory would “Crash the market. 401(k)s will be down the tubes, the wealth of the country will be down… They’re going to raise taxes, they’re going to raise regulations, and they’re going to put everyone out of business. It would be a disaster.”
David Rosenberg, chief economist and strategist at Rosenberg Research, agrees. He believes a Biden victory and ultimately higher taxes would harm the markets.
“The implications for the stock market from this shift to higher taxes are generally negative. A drop in the S&P 500 of 10.5% from where it is today is well within reason,” Rosenberg added.
Expectations are that Democrats would increase the capital gains tax for the highest earners. Also expected is a raise in the corporate tax rate. This raise aims to pay for some of the $6 trillion in proposed spending over the next 10 years.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the country hasn’t even had a chance to experience the full benefits of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that Trump signed into law in 2017. Biden may live up to his promises of raising the corporate tax rate. If that happens, the Tax Foundation says the US GDP will be reduced by 1.5%.
Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs are among a handful of Wall Street banks warning that higher tax rates will drag down the stock market.
Michael Wilson, chief U.S. equity strategist at Morgan Stanley, told clients last month that raising the corporate income tax to 35 percent from 21 percent would make “100-150 points on the S&P 500 a baseline for the impact of a tax cut rollback, all else equal.”
David Kostin, chief U.S. equity strategist at Goldman Sachs, called Biden’s tax policy a “larger risk to earnings and consequently to equity prices” than the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic caused the stock market to plunge 34% before rebounding.
A Biden victory in November is seen as a “neutral to slight positive” by the equity strategy team at JPMorgan. The team explained that presidential challengers, like Biden, “typically campaign at an extreme,” but veer back toward the center following the election.
Let hope we never have to find out how detrimental Biden’s tax policies would be for our country and our economy.
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