Start the conversation
I made you some very specific promises when I started Total Wealth. Not only would we cover specific trading ideas and big trends, but we'd also dive into the specific tactics needed to maximize your wealth.
Today I'm going to keep that promise with a look at one way to trade Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) and Whole Foods Market Inc. (Nasdaq: WFM) right now using a Total Wealth Tactic I know you'll love as much as I do.
What I really like about this trade is that it's easy to understand and even easier to implement. And it has the potential to profit no matter whether the markets go up, down, or simply sideways.
Best of all, though, there's $1 trillion up for grabs.
Here's what you need to know.
Buying Whole Foods Signals Huge Profit Potential
Most investors view a deal like the Amazon/Whole Foods acquisition as a fait accompli for three reasons:
- The $13.7 billion deal just gave other retailers an involuntary $50 billion buzzcut and pounded many of their favorite stocks in the process.
- Amazon operates like a startup, which means a complete transformation of the grocery business they've counted on for years.
- There was no warning, which means they "missed it."
Yet, in reality, landmark deals like this one are just the beginning when it comes to ginormous profit potential.
Here's my thinking.
First, the outmoded, outdated, and hopelessly inadequate grocery business is worth $700 billion to $800 billion in this country alone. To say it's ripe for disruption would be an understatement.
Second, buying Whole Foods gives Amazon instant control over approximately 460 retail stores where it can use expert supply chain management to maximize profits and test new retailing concepts that dramatically boost profits for the right stores while simultaneously clobbering any retailer without an "Amazon defense strategy."
For example, a typical offline retailer can take nearly 270 days to make a price change, according to Intelligence Node. The average U.S. e-commerce site takes roughly one month to make a price change.
Amazon can do it worldwide in two minutes.
Wal-Mart sells roughly 17 million products, according to ScrapeHero, a top Data as a Service company. Whole Foods has perhaps a few thousand on offer…
Amazon sells 357 billion.
And third, "because you bought this" – a key Amazon merchandising strategy you see every time you order anything from Amazon – is about to hit an entirely new level of sophistication. It's not hard to imagine buying fresh salmon, wasabi, and kale only to have Amazon's algorithms hit your smartphone with recipes, related products, and reviews… in seconds… before you step out of the store.
In reality, the real endgame is anything but groceries.
It's about your home and the big data that increasingly drives it.
Buying Whole Foods gives Amazon an instantly competitive platform to counter Google's Express delivery service, which now covers 90% of the United States, according to company documents and reported by Time magazine.
More importantly, I believe Team Bezos fully intends to use Alexa as some sort of digital butler – meaning you can say what you want to buy and it'll be delivered lickety-split to your door anywhere on the planet, or waiting for you when you get there… together with gobs of other products carefully curated to reflect your idiosyncrasies.
I think the end result is something I call the "Home Depot-fication" of retail shopping.
I believe that the total market is worth at least $1 trillion over the next five years if you factor in the total value of the grocery industry, the home automation market, and related data services that will make it happen.
The downside of all this, of course, is that there will be no more secrets.
Not yours, not mine… not Edward Snowden's. Everything we buy or even talk about is going to be voluntarily given over in exchange for loyalty programs, personalized offers, and more. Personally, I find this incredibly disturbing, but that's a story for another time – and, of course, another investment opportunity I'll cover in the weeks ahead.
Introducing a Total Wealth Tactic Ideally Suited for "WholeFoods-azon"
Most investors have never heard of a "pairs trade" – which is what you call a market-neutral strategy used by many professionals to capitalize on situations like this.
Technically speaking, a pairs trade is a form of statistical arbitrage. That's a $5 way of saying that it has two parts and that it's the relationship between them that allows you to profit as the trade matures.
The trade was first pioneered at Morgan Stanley in the 1980s and usually involves two highly correlated securities. You buy one and short the other at the same time, creating a "spread." Then, as one weakens and the other strengthens, the spread changes. And that's your profit mechanism.
Historically, the companies have tracked relatively closely, moving more or less in sync with market conditions. If Wal-Mart began looking too hot while Target stayed flat, a trader could buy Target stock while simultaneously selling Wal-Mart stock short.
If Target rose to "catch up," as is often the case in today's highly computerized markets, the trader would make money on the Target stock. Or, if Wal-Mart stock began to slip, that very same trade is set up for profits having shorted the Bentonville giant.
Whether the markets rise or fall is moot once this trade is in motion. It's the relationship between the two stocks that matters.
Pairs Trades Have a Number of Key Advantages
First, pairs trades are great in rocky markets because they can help you control risk. It's not uncommon, for example, to have both stocks in a pairs trade fall on a big down day. While that would clobber regular investors, pairs traders may remain completely neutral or even profit if the relationship changes in their favor.
Second, pairs trades are not market driven. They can potentially profit when the markets go up, when they go down, or even when they go nowhere at all. Remember, it's the relative performance that you're after here.
Third, there's almost no directional risk. Because a pairs trade always has one long and one short position, the first position is constantly hedging the second, and vice versa.
And fourth, because of the way they work, pairs trades can be very low cost or even no cost. It's not uncommon for the short position, for example, to pay for the long. Margin requirements, as a related item, are typically much smaller too, because drawdowns are minimal by virtue of the fact that they're always offset.
There is no doubt in my mind that Amazon is the real winner in this case and that every other retailer is the loser. I don't care whether we're talking Wal-Mart, Target, or even other grocers.
Amazon has so much cash, unprecedented access to big data, and years of operational logistical experience that the latter simply cannot compete.
This kind of market reaction reinforces my contention that Amazon's stock price is far more likely to rise over time and at a faster pace than the broader markets, just as has been the case since September 2016 when I encouraged Money Map Report subscribers to get on board for what I believed would be another marvelous run. Fortunately, that's come to pass, and everybody who's following along as directed is enjoying a 2.05-to-1 advantage that's seen their profits jump 30.39% versus 14.78% from the S&P 500.
It also suggests that other retailers fall behind. Grocers, in particular, are in real trouble because the number of shoppers willing to put up with manual decision making, poor inventory management, and – gasp – manual checkout lines will decrease. Ironically, Amazon struck again as I was finishing this article when it announced Prime Wardrobe, tanking both JCPenney and Nordstrom within hours.
Here's How to Set Up the Trade
About the Author
Keith Fitz-Gerald has been the Chief Investment Strategist for the Money Morning team since 2007. He's a seasoned market analyst with decades of experience, and a highly accurate track record. Keith regularly travels the world in search of investment opportunities others don't yet see or understand. In addition to heading The Money Map Report, Keith runs High Velocity Profits, which aims to get in, target gains, and get out clean, and he's also the founding editor of Straight Line Profits, a service devoted to revealing the "dark side" of Wall Street... In his weekly Total Wealth, Keith has broken down his 30-plus years of success into three parts: Trends, Risk Assessment, and Tactics – meaning the exact techniques for making money. Sign up is free at totalwealthresearch.com.