The Big-Picture Buy Thesis for Whole Foods

"On Wall Street, they're in the business of making money between now and next Thursday. ... We want to build a company that will still be here 50 and 60 years from now."

Jim Sinegal of Costco uttered those words, but it also applies to Whole Foods (NASDAQ: WFM  ) .

With Wall Street dinging Whole Foods shares by roughly 20% since the company's latest earnings release on May 6, it's a good time to detail the big-picture reasons I believe Whole Foods will still be prospering five or six decades from now.

These are the same reasons that next week I'll be buying Whole Foods shares for the real-money portfolio I manage for The Motley Fool.

Let's begin here:

Whole Foods is a focused first mover
I don't care how many headlines there are that speculate otherwise: McDonald's will never be Starbucks, Taco Bell will never be Chipotle, and stores like Safeway and Wal-Mart will never be Whole Foods.

Those other concepts can try to copy, but they lack the focus, commitment, and authenticity to pull it off. Consumers may not be able to quite put it into words, but as a group they can spot a fake.

McDonald's is the best-run large-scale fast food company I've seen. I marvel at its efficiency and relative consistency around the world. But that distinctive McDonald's smell and the statues of Ronald McDonald just don't evoke the same upscale, relaxing coffee shop feel a Starbucks does. McDonald's will never be that "third place" for most of Starbucks' targeted audience.

While Taco Bell is associated with post-midnight "fourth meal" runs by frat brothers and jokes about the quality of its meat, Chipotle has a clean, higher-end feel and is all-in on "food with integrity." Taco Bell's Cantina Bell menu loses a lot of allure to typical Chipotle devotees when you can get gorditas, chalupas, and Doritos Locos Tacos at the same drive-through window.

It's the same way with Whole Foods. Traditional grocers and one-stop shops are adding organic food sections and offerings, but Whole Foods is all-in on organic. The company and its employees actually seem to care about organics -- rather than simply caring about losing market share to organics. The store experience (which we'll get more into soon) is vastly different at a Whole Foods versus a regular grocer, a Target, and certainly a Wal-Mart.

As for the clones that are popping up, even if they are adept at copying Whole Foods' playbook (very hard to do ... no one's yet successfully stolen Starbucks' or Chipotle's), they're playing well behind a first mover. If you combined the annual sales of Sprouts, The Fresh Market, and Natural Grocers, they'd equal about a third of Whole Foods' $13.6 billion in sales.

      

Meanwhile, Whole Foods is accelerating its pace of expansion to thwart the bandwagoners.

Just as Starbucks proved that America (and the world) had a desire for a chain of high-end coffee shops, Whole Foods has proved out the market for organic food. Others may imitate some of Whole Foods' pioneering moves, but it'll be hard to imitate the daily commitment to the cause. At the top level, you can see that commitment in the words and actions of Whole Foods co-CEO John Mackey. At a more granular level, you can see it in the helpfulness of its store employees. More on this soon.

Of course, winning is meaningful only if there's a prize to be claimed. Winning in organic food promises excellent opportunities.

Organic food is a megatrend, not a fad
A man starving on a desert island doesn't care if the chicken sandwich you just gave him came out of a trash can. Meanwhile, a child raised in an upper-middle-class suburb may know her GMOs soon after her ABCs.

For good or bad, prosperity brings with it higher expectations.

It seems a reasonable working theory, then, that 10, 20, 50 years from now we'll be caring more, rather than less, about where our foods come from. That leads me to believe the organic boom we've seen over the past quarter-century isn't going anywhere.

As Whole Foods itself reports, "Organic products have grown on average more than 20% per year over the last 7-10 years, making it the fastest growing segment of agriculture." Meanwhile, analysts see double-digit growth ahead.

In other words, the field Whole Foods dominates is getting bigger.

And Whole Foods isn't sitting still.

Whole Foods is wildly entrepreneurial
Not surprisingly, our co-founder Tom Gardner loves founder-led organizations. The logic makes sense.

Who would you guess takes better care of a child -- a child's parent or a hired caregiver? Intuitively, we know it's the parent. 

In the same way, a founder has more inherent incentive to take care of what he's created than a hired-gun CEO would.

Well, Whole Foods is headed up by one -- co-CEO John Mackey. His dedication to the company versus the money is hard to question. Back in 2007, he dropped his salary to $1 a year, with future stock options going to charity. 

He has guided Whole Foods' growth from one location in Texas in 1978 to almost 400 today, mostly in the United States. Perhaps more impressive than the growth is that these stores do something hard in retail -- they wow us. 

I've lived in the same general area (a suburb of D.C.) for over a decade. In that time, I've had goodly exposure to two Safeways, two Harris Teeters, two Giants, and two Whole Foods.

"Entrepreneurial" is not the word I'd associate with the first three supermarket chains. "Standard" would be the word I'd choose. Some are nicer, some may have an in-store bank or coffee shop, some may be better staffed or cheaper, but they're all pretty much what you'd expect when you walk into a grocery store.

Just off the top of my head, here are some of the little entrepreneurial touches I've seen at one or both of the Whole Foods stores near me:

  • Friday special: All week long, a sandwich board at the entrance announces the special for that Friday. It's something different but interesting each week. Think cheddar cheese or blueberries or flowers or pie. I admit to hoping each time that it's rib-eye steaks again.

A Whole Foods DIY OJ machine.

  • Make-your-own OJ: There are automatic juicing machines that let you make your own orange juice. For the convenience seekers, they also have some fresh-squeezed bottles next to them. It gives you that interactive feel of that big keyboard Tom Hanks jumped around on so famously. Depending on the store, you may also see similar things like a manned fresh guacamole station.

  • Street food: At the one in Alexandria, Va., near Fool HQ, they set up a little street food kiosk each day at lunch featuring an item like pupusas or hot dogs. Sometimes they even grill burgers outside the store.

  • Walk-up window: Meanwhile, at the Clarendon location in Arlington, which has much more foot traffic, they installed a walk-up window to sell freshly prepared rotisserie chicken.

  • Sports bar: To cheat a little and mention a third Whole Foods in my area, the one in Fair Lakes has a full sports bar with 15 TVs (one's 90 inches!) and six beers on tap. The one in Alexandria doesn't have as much space, so it makes do with a space-efficient semi-oblong bar that gets quite a bit of lunchtime use.

A Whole Foods produce gallery.

  • Produce presentation: At least in the D.C. area, Whole Foods' produce beats the quality I've seen at farmers' markets. Like most markets, when you enter a Whole Foods, you get funneled through the produce department to establish a feeling that everything's fresh. What's remarkable about Whole Foods is the care taken to present the fruits and vegetables. The colors and the order are striking. Paul Cezanne would marvel. For me, it's the bell peppers that do it.

  • Special-occasion dominance: On Valentine's Day, the floral department in Alexandria took over much of the produce section to offer both pre-arranged bouquets and a custom flower arrangement section. Many Motley Fool marriages may have been saved that day.

  • Coffee: I've noticed prominent advertising at both my Whole Foods locations that the coffee bar now opens at 7 a.m.

  • Checkout enticements: When I check out at lunch in the express lane, each time I'm tempted by some dessert item upsell, often presented on ice. We're talking fresh fruit cups, strawberry shortcake, pudding, and the like.

From what I've seen, Whole Foods is darn good about competing to get you in often and making you feel like you're getting a premium experience and premium items once you're there. 

Taken as a pattern, you can see that Whole Foods is smart about innovating at both the company level and the store level. A company that micromanages and doesn't have employee buy-in doesn't achieve the store experience Whole Foods does.

There's a reason Whole Foods employees are so knowledgeable and helpful and actually smile. More than most places in retail, Whole Foods employees seem to feel that the store and the company are theirs. Because they are. Over the entire history of Whole Foods, a mind-boggling 95% of stock incentives have gone to non-executives.

Furthermore, in teams, the employees are given real decision-making responsibilities at the store level. The profit from the resulting innovation and efficiency isn't just added to the bottom line -- it's shared when goals are exceeded.

It's relatively easy to steal the big ideas of one great entrepreneur. It's much harder to keep up with tens of thousands of them doing it on a daily basis.

Which helps lead to ...

Huge margins
When you offer an authentic, premium product and experience, you can charge a premium price for it. We see evidence of that in Whole Foods' gross margins. They sit in the mid-30s, while traditional grocers live somewhere in the 20s. That cushion of about 10% gives you the room to juice your experience, pay your people well, and still lead the industry in bottom-line margins.

It also allows you the leeway to think longer term.

Whole Foods is in the process of giving 1% of its gross margin advantage back. In fiscal year 2018, it expects to produce gross margins of 34.45%.

By lowering prices a bit on its food, particularly the staple items most folks compare across stores, Whole Foods is hoping to soften its "Whole Paycheck" reputation as competitors stream into the organic niche it pioneered.

Seems like a wise, long-term-business-building move to me.

The bottom line
Let's put this all in perspective.

Whole Foods shares fell the aforementioned 20% because Wall Street is focusing on increased competition. As John Mackey himself said: "For a long time Whole Foods had the field to ourselves, pretty much. That was nice. But we don't any longer."

Combine flat quarterly earnings with lowered guidance for the fiscal year, and that competition certainly seems to be manifesting itself.

But stepping back to the big picture, I'd rather be Whole Foods than any of its competitors.

Looking at Whole Foods' refreshingly longer-term five-year guidance, we're still looking at projected double-digit annual sales growth and annual same-store sales growth in the 5% to 6% range.

And looking out further, I see Whole Foods as a business that's going to continue thriving a half century from now.

If that's the case, you can ignore all the negative talk about mid-twenties price-to-earnings ratios, quarterly earnings disappointments, and slightly lowered gross margins and say something shocking ...

Whole Foods is a bargain. 

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Read/Post Comments (30) | Recommend This Article (95)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On May 24, 2014, at 1:16 PM, Pfoolhart wrote:

    Thanks for this excellent article. It's nice to be reminded of why WFM was my first investment after reading John Mackey's "Conscious Capitalism" and discovering the Motley Fool (through Mackey's book) in spring of last year. Especially as that initial investment is down 25%! (Take heart: Tesla was my second, and the overall fledgling portfolio is up 40%.) But I didn't buy Whole Foods, or any of the others, on how well they'll be doing in a year, much less a quarter. My eyes are far, far out the windshield, and I still love what I see, though I do worry a little about the encroaching competition and the accomodating loss of pricing power (Buffet's first criterion: Can they afford to price higher?). I don't have direct access, the closest Whole Foods Market to where I live (Mt. Shasta, Ca.) is hundreds of miles away, but I loved Mackey's book (and his mission), and I love what the great Fool analysts like you have to say about this amazing company. It helps me no end, thanks again.

    Ken

  • Report this Comment On May 24, 2014, at 11:18 PM, hoodat wrote:

    At Whole foods if they say it's organic you can take it to the bank. Sprouts sells organic food under their label but right next to it on the shelf will be non organic with the same label except that the word organic is missing. You have to be careful which one you pick up. The Safeway family? Forget it. After finding potato flour and celulose in some of thier dairy products I wouldn't trust them to be honest about organics. You know another word for celulose? Yep, they're selling you sawdust.

  • Report this Comment On May 25, 2014, at 1:14 PM, drax7 wrote:

    Totally agree , more over they show steady growth and predictable earnings in my view.

    I calculate an intrinsic value of 35 per share, and plan to load up.

  • Report this Comment On May 28, 2014, at 10:59 AM, pondee619 wrote:

    But, aren't they still just a grocery store? A store in a field with generally low margins? Is their any moat or barrier to any other store in the field who wants in on their "Huge margins"?

    "They (margins of Whole Foods) sit in the mid-30s, while traditional grocers live somewhere in the 20s." What prevents anyone else in the field from coming in and cutting those margins? As John Mackey himself said: "For a long time Whole Foods had the field to ourselves, pretty much. That was nice. But we don't any longer."

    Whole Foods is, after all, just a grocery store. What's to stop Shop Rite, A & P, Kroger, Piggly Wiggly, FoodTown et al. from stealing Whole Food's margin?

  • Report this Comment On May 28, 2014, at 11:01 AM, bru5ce wrote:

    The Whole Foods in Reno Nevada has a tap room with something like twelve taps, along with wine tasting. They'll even give you a beer in a plastic cup to take with you around the store while you shop. It sure improves the shopping experience!

  • Report this Comment On May 28, 2014, at 11:42 AM, JohnSanDiego wrote:

    "But, aren't they still just a grocery store?"

    Pondee, you need to visit your nearest Whole Foods and then answer your own question. Like comparing McCafe to Starbucks "Aren't they still just a cafe"?

  • Report this Comment On May 28, 2014, at 11:46 AM, DCUDFlyer wrote:

    I liken WFM to SBUX. Both offer "near essentials" at a premium price and both face increasing competition from low cost providers to substitutes. Where these two really set the bar is in customer experience which in turn drives intense customer loyalty. Shopping at WFM and having a Venti Pike at SBUX is a lifestyle and an experience. These characteristics cannot be replicated; while browsing the organic selections at Safeway and grabbing coffee at Carribou Coffee might be similar, no one would ever confuse these options with the experience garnered at WFM & SBUX. Yes, WFM is “just a grocery store” however there is a significant MOAT to consider.

    I tend to think WFM may have been a bit overvalued in the past and there are SOME concerns about competition and the “whole paycheck” mantra. However, management with a proven track record and a stock price down 30% YTD sure does sound appealing.

  • Report this Comment On May 28, 2014, at 12:06 PM, pondee619 wrote:

    John:

    I have. Yeah, they have some nice stuff. Nothing that no one else could offer if they wanted to. And at the prices they like to get, it won't be long before someone else does. I grant you that the snob appeal of Whole Foods is off putting.

    BTW Starbucks is over rated also. Dunkin Donuts has better coffee. The Ridgewood Coffee Company in a neighboring town is far superior to the Starbucks down the street. Next thing you'll tell me is that Red Lobster and Olive Garden are great restaurants. Good name recognition, much better fare to be found at many other places.

    Any way the point being is that there is NOTHING preventing any other grocer from steping on Whole Foods great margins. That was my question, John, that you did not answer.

  • Report this Comment On May 28, 2014, at 1:23 PM, Drdoug165 wrote:

    out of the S&P 500, WFM performed the poorest of all 500 companies this YTD. No amount of spin can change this or that the Fools continued to reccomend this stock , where Mackey sits on the Fools board. This stock stinks as does Having Mackey sit on the board of the Fools

  • Report this Comment On May 28, 2014, at 1:55 PM, DCUDFlyer wrote:

    @drdoug165 - I agree that there is an independence concern here with MF and WFM and that we should take the peddling of WFM thoughts with a grain of salt.

    With that being said, I found the author's take interesting and the article well witten.

  • Report this Comment On May 28, 2014, at 2:39 PM, TMFJCar wrote:

    Hey Drdoug165,

    Personally, I own Whole Foods Market and witnessed the huge drop after its last earnings report. And, to be fair, it didn’t feel good. Obviously we as shareholders wanted it to go the other way. I assume what you are saying is correct in regards to WFM being the worst performing stock of the S&P 500. I think we look at this as an opportunity rather than a curse. Personally, I bought more shares after the drop. If you are looking for a long-term play on changing eating habits and conscious capitalism (more on that later), than Whole Foods is the way to go.

    As far as John Mackey goes, we’re honored to have him on our board. He made Whole Foods from an idea to its current market cap of $14 billion (more on that later). Not only that, he has a very high CEO rating on Glassdoor from his employees. We’ve always admired business leaders, particularly founders, that are able to build a company from the ground up considering all stakeholders – employees and suppliers, shareholders, and customers. Whole Foods personifies that approach. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with his views, what he’s done is amazing. Also, we were fans before he joined our board – way before.

    Right now, Whole Foods is a mere $14 billion dollar company (for reference, Facebook bought a texting app, WhatsApp, for $19 billion) that’s revolutionized the grocery shopping experience and I think they will continue. Personally, I saw the drop as an opportunity to buy a high-quality company on discount. After all, I’m not looking at the past six months – or even the next six months – I’m looking at the next six years. That’s what Foolish investing is about.

    Again, sorry you had to endure this drop my friend. I’ve weathered it myself. But we Fools live by a rather simple premise: by high quality companies and take advantage of Wall Street’s myopia.

    Hope that helps,

    Jamal Carnette

    TMFJCar

  • Report this Comment On May 28, 2014, at 4:58 PM, TMFBomb wrote:

    @pondee619,

    You mentioned Starbucks...the same could be said about it...that other competitors could provide similar offerings for much cheaper...and thereby cut its margins.

    The hope of Starbucks and Whole Foods bulls is that the premium experience (real or imagined) will cause folks to pay a premium price.

    I believe Whole Foods can 1) thrive for decades and 2) maintain higher margins than the industry.

    Best,

    Anand

  • Report this Comment On May 28, 2014, at 5:00 PM, TMFBomb wrote:

    @TMFJCar,

    Nice juxtaposition of the market caps of WhatsApp and Whole Foods.

    Best,

    Anand

  • Report this Comment On May 28, 2014, at 6:58 PM, buddylee59 wrote:

    Anand,

    Your article sums up the long-term bull case for WFM very well. WFM's niche/first mover status will serve the company well as the grocery industry compresses. The number of players will increase, but the margins will get more and more shallow, IF price is the only driver. WFM 's appeal will never be its pricing, just like Chipotle will never try to beat Taco Bell's prices. Lower-priced competitors will come and go; customer loyalty is built over time, and WFM's first mover position will enable them to sustain and grow the business over the long term. That's why I bought some shares; I'm in for the long term.

  • Report this Comment On May 28, 2014, at 9:27 PM, CoreAndExplore wrote:

    @Anand and Jamal: Great points about WFM's strong positioning in the industry and it's premium product creating somewhat of a moat around the business. Customer loyalty is very important.

    Every time I go to the Whole Foods in Charlottesville, VA (my hometown) it's totally packed. Sometimes it's hard to find a parking spot! For some comparison, a Fresh Market store opened up a couple of years ago in a shopping center just a few miles away in town, and it was DEAD. They had great products, and a very nice layout, but only one register was open with NO line, and I counted 6 customers in the entire store. I asked my dad about it, and he didn't even know the store was there; he still goes to the Whole Foods at least twice a week. I've told him Fresh Market would be much quicker and he could get pretty much the same food, but he has no interest.

    Whole Foods sells an experience as much as it does organic food, and that experience affords the company much richer margins than its competitors. It presents a social gathering where friends can see each other all the time. What other groceries can claim the same kind of experience? Not many.

  • Report this Comment On May 29, 2014, at 12:01 AM, Spaniel wrote:

    A very well written and informative article. I've not been warm to the Whole Foods model but also don't have any stores in my area. This article provided more insight to what makes Whole Foods different from its competitors and allows me to make more informed decisions.

  • Report this Comment On May 29, 2014, at 1:04 AM, barone123 wrote:

    do you know if whole foods have plans to come to Sydney Australia

  • Report this Comment On May 29, 2014, at 9:10 AM, pondee619 wrote:

    It seems that the bull thesis for Whole Foods is the consumer contiuing to blindly shop where there is a perceived "premium experience (real or imagined)". Kinda takes the "smart shopper" out of the equation. Paying a premium price for a real or imagined premium experience each and every week while shopping for necessaries is going to get tired, unless, of course, you got money to burn. Just my $0.02.

  • Report this Comment On May 29, 2014, at 10:23 AM, Nebbish wrote:

    Can the same be said of GNC vs Vitamin Shoppe?

    Is there any comparative moat that GNC shares with WFM that will help fend off against similar product offerings from pharmacies/e-commerce.

  • Report this Comment On May 29, 2014, at 3:15 PM, SMFT wrote:

    I live in Pasadena, CA, where we have two (count `em - 2) WholeFood stores, including one double-decker behemoth that must be 75,000 Sq Ft.

    I NEVER go to WholeFoods because the prices are flat-out ridiculous. I mean it. You can easily spend 40-50% more on your groceries if you shop at WFM.

    For what? A non-regulated, ill-defined and highly dubious rating of "organic" on much of the foodstuff sold there.

    Has anybody read the current USDA regulations that allow the placement of the term "organic" on packaging? It is a joke....

  • Report this Comment On May 29, 2014, at 3:20 PM, Carioca58 wrote:

    Wow, this is well written!

  • Report this Comment On May 29, 2014, at 6:42 PM, crca99 wrote:

    The Whole Foods stores of my area are grocery stores PLUS deli cafes. The prepared food is perfectly seasoned and fresh of course. Watching the breakfast, lunch and take out businesses convinced me to buy in when the price dropped recently.

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 2:01 PM, nick2302 wrote:

    While it is true Whole foods gets a lot of positive press from chef's WF is not all that and a bag of chips. First of all the shopping experience in most whole foods is pretty poor for the average consumer. This IS NOT like going to STARBUCKS instead of PEETS. Other big chains like Target and Trader Joes (which has a much better shopping experience) can buy and sell at a margin's WF cannot come close to. Two points these other stores have to their benefit, they have distribution systems well established and the competition is going to push the items people really are interested in not all the odd items on WF shelves..

    Two things Whole Foods has going for it is the Meat counter and the fresh produce which works well in towns like Austin where there are few farmers markets that give much competition. Now think about San Francisco with Farmer's markets just about every day not far from where people live and who is going to use a WF's? Not nearly as many as in second tier cities like Austin who have the bicycle, boat rowing millennial. The store in San Francisco has five floors of apartments above its ground floor location that start at $5000.00 per month and populated with mostly young tech workers (target audience).

    When a normal shopper goes into WF's most shop the outside circle and leave the middle section with all the odd unrecognizable products alone. Who wants to shop for food at a CVS? Secondly you cannot go by the performance WF's has shown so far as it has established stores in places that have the granola crunchers masses already there. So they have placed stores in the low hanging fruit locations where the type of customer they want to appeal to already lives.

    Will whole foods play well in Middle America with their high prices and odd selection of groceries? The jury is definitely out.

    Nick

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 2:06 PM, Thrifty1 wrote:

    Agree with you. WFM has room to grow and the stock price decline makes it attractive. I have been buying this stock at recent prices and expect to do well over time.

  • Report this Comment On June 01, 2014, at 12:39 AM, Borisbmx wrote:

    Giving back 1% of gross margin is paltry, don't fool yourself.

  • Report this Comment On June 03, 2014, at 1:05 PM, jtibbetts1 wrote:

    Love whole foods.... BUT... it came at #13(?) at C on.Report, and wegmans came in #1... WF lost ground because of PRICES..... a superWegmans in allentown- huge expansion looks a lot like WF in PHL and Ft Collins CO and the prices are somewhat lower than WF... that said, we'd love a WF in Lehigh Valley for the competition and: see 1st sentence... thanx for the article...

  • Report this Comment On June 05, 2014, at 3:28 PM, SunTzu861 wrote:

    Huge fan of Whole Food. In fact increased my position by 50% last week and am planning to acquire some more. IMO think this is a great long term hold stock. They have mind share, great customer service, and organic food companies want to sell there products through whole food. These companies gain tremendous credibility its the equivalent of getting the consumer reports top rating

  • Report this Comment On June 06, 2014, at 1:36 PM, Brute66 wrote:

    Excellent article, Mr. Chokkavelu. After wading through all the comments, I'm buying Whole Food. There is something to be said for quality, and that is what Whole Food provides. The Golden Corral crowd will always flock to Walmart and Kroger because they seek the cheapest products available, and they fill a need for those shoppers, but they will never cut into Whole Food's customer base. Whole Food does not even try to appeal to those shoppers. It seeks the growing number of informed shoppers who know they get what they pay for and are willing to pay a bit more for the best.

  • Report this Comment On June 18, 2014, at 11:11 PM, Haggy wrote:

    There's organic and there's healthful. Supermarkets love to play games, and Whole Foods is simply playing different ones. Supermarkets have a code for "high in fat." The code is "low sugar." And of course "fat free" means loaded with sugar.

    We have organic items such as "organic evaporated cane juice" which is another way of saying that it's a red hair better for you than anything else, but is still loaded with crap.

    If I made a beverage and claimed that it contains 100% orange juice, and my justification was that I added a glass of 100% orange juice to the water, I'd be breaking the law. But Whole Foods doesn't mind carrying products that make the same specious claim about "whole wheat." If I take wheat, split it into two piles, refine one of them, and mix them back together, I don't have whole wheat. Having an ingredient list that says "whole wheat flour, wheat flour, ..." is a lie. Wheat is one ingredient and it's partly refined.

    It's about time they stop worrying just about organic foods and start concentrating on foods that are truly healthful, not ones that put claims on the label that will make people thing it already is.

    Chipotle at least has brown rice and black beans as an alternative, but no whole grain wraps. They aren't as bad as many fast food chains that pretend to offer better alternatives, such as Subway. If you don't serve pumpernickel or rye or bread made with any grain but wheat, then why offer choices that include white bread, sour dough, and wheat bread? They are all wheat breads. The implication is that "wheat bread" is something else, but it's still made with refined flour,

    The bottom line is that you are getting junk food wherever you go. It's a matter of how honest they are about it.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 8:38 AM, khbhatia wrote:

    Am I reading it right, the market cap is 14 billion and the annual sales is 13 billion.

    The market is valuing WFM it at just 1x times the sales?

    I think there is some bargain on this stock.

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