Does Jet Acquisition Boost Wal-Mart’s Chances Against Amazon?

August 8, 2016 by Paul Ausick

Calling the deal “another jolt of entrepreneurial spirit being injected” into the company, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) announced Monday that it has agreed to acquire Jet.com for $3.3 billion in cash and stock. Reports of a possible acquisition became public last week, so the announcement was expected.

According to the press release, Wal-Mart is paying $3 billion in cash, some of which will be paid over time, and $300 million in Wal-Mart stock, also paid over time. The boards of both companies have agreed to the transaction, for which the world’s largest retailer expects to receive regulatory approval. No shareholder votes are needed.

The Jet brand will be retained to “continue to provide a unique and differentiated customer experience with curated assortment.” Wal-Mart said that Walmart.com will continue to focus on delivering the company’s Everyday Low Price strategy.

Which leads to the obvious question: How does this acquisition help Wal-Mart put a bigger dent in Amazon.com Inc.’s (NASDAQ: AMZN) hegemony in e-commerce? Wal-Mart said that the combined company will “leverage innovative technology solutions from both companies to develop new offerings to help customers save time and money.” It’s really anybody’s guess as to what that really means.

Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon said:

We’re looking for ways to lower prices, broaden our assortment and offer the simplest, easiest shopping experience because that’s what our customers want. We believe the acquisition of Jet accelerates our progress across these priorities. Walmart.com will grow faster, the seamless shopping experience we’re pursuing will happen quicker, and we’ll enable the Jet brand to be even more successful in a shorter period of time.

One benefit to Wal-Mart is the attractiveness of Jet to millennials, which, according to Wal-Mart, is the “first generation of digital natives.” But what happens if the natives get restless?

It appears that Wal-Mart is counting on Jet’s curated approach to product offerings to keep the millennials (and the rest of us) coming back for more.

Ahead of Monday’s opening bell Wal-Mart’s stock is up about 0.7%, at $74.25 in a 52-week range of $56.30 to $74.35. The stock closed at $73.95 on Friday, and the 12-month price target estimate is $69.72.

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