Update on Whole Foods

I was in the middle of writing a post about Etsy's shareholder trouble, when this news just hit. Amazon is buying Whole Foods for $42 per share. For a little more analysis, check out the post on Whole Foods from last month. But let's reiterate the point.

Amazon is paying $13.7 billion for Whole Foods. With 400 locations, that's about $29 million per store. Note that they did not buy:

  • Kroger, with a market cap of $16.4 billion and 4,000 locations ($4.1 million per store)
  • Sprouts, with a market cap of $2.6 billion and 256 locations ($10 million per store)
  • Roundy's, with a market cap of $178 million and 148 locations ($1.2 million per store)
  • Target, with a market cap of $27.4 billion and 1,802 locations ($15.2 million per store)

That's by far the highest price per store location of the group.

So why Whole Foods? The WSJ guesses that Amazon is looking for "beachheads for in-store pickup and its distribution network." If that's the case, why not buy a firm with far more retail locations for far less money?

If you're reading this blog, you already know the answer: The long-term business benefits of companies with high social performance are huge, compelling, and real. Amazon has no interest in buying a firm with low social performance and playing catch-up. It may help with short term earnings, but it's a bad long-term play.