Is Now the Time to Buy Tesco?

LONDON -- I'm always searching for shares that can help ordinary investors like you make money from the stock market.

So right now I am trawling through the FTSE 100 and giving my verdict on every member of the blue-chip index. Simply put, I'm hoping to pinpoint the very best buying opportunities in today's uncertain market.

Today I am looking at Tesco  (LSE: TSCO  ) (NASDAQOTH: TSCDY  ) to determine whether you should consider buying the shares at 356 pence.

I am assessing each company on several ratios:

  • Price/Earnings (P/E): Does the share look good value when compared against its competitors?
  • Price/Earnings-to-Growth (PEG): Does the share look good value factoring in predicted growth?
  • Yield: Does the share provide a solid income for investors?
  • Dividend Cover: Is the dividend sustainable?

So let's look at the numbers:

Stock

Price

3-Year EPS growth

Projected P/E

PEG

Yield

3-Year Dividend Growth

Dividend Cover

Tesco

356 pence

23%

11

N/A

4.2%

14%

2.5

The consensus analyst estimate for next year's earnings per share is 32 pence (down 14%), and the dividend per share is 14.7 pence (no change).

Trading on a projected P/E of 11, Tesco appears to be slightly more expensive than its main London-listed competitors, Wm Morrison Supermarkets and J Sainsbury, which trade on forward P/Es of 9.5 and 10.2, respectively. Unfortunately, Tesco's higher P/E and falling near-term growth give a negative PEG ratio, which cannot help with my analysis.

Tesco supports a 4.2% yield, which is slightly lower than the company's major competitors, which offer an average yield of 4.6%. That said, Tesco has a three-year compounded dividend growth rate of 14%, implying that the payout will continue to grow in line with the company's competitors.

Tesco's dividend is around two-and-a-half times covered, giving the company plenty room for further payout growth.

Does Tesco deserve its current premium over its competitors?
I have always been a fan of Tesco. However, I currently believe the shares look overvalued. Although the company has made significant progress restructuring and reorganizing its business since the profit warning last year, I think Tesco still has a long way to go before it is back on track.

Still, Tesco has something its major U.K. competitors do not have, and that is international diversification. In particular, Tesco has access to the fast-growing economies of Southeast Asia. Indeed, I can see that during the last quarter of 2012, Tesco saw sales growth of 8% in this region.

Unfortunately, Tesco's international presence does expose it to the hostile economic environment within Europe, where sales fell 2.4% during the last quarter of 2012. Furthermore, Tesco's highly criticized U.S. operations continue to be a drag on the company. However, Tesco has initiated a review of its U.S. business, and a plan is expected to be announced in April.

Nonetheless, despite last year's worries about the company's future prospects, Tesco has defied the critics, and its turnaround plan appears to be making some progress.

So overall, despite Tesco's improving outlook, I believe the company currently looks overpriced and reckon now does not look to be a good time to buy Tesco at 356 pence.

More FTSE opportunities
Although I think now may not be the time to buy Tesco, I am more positive on the FTSE shares highlighted in "8 Dividend Plays Held by Britain's Super Investor." This exclusive report reveals the favorite income stocks owned by Neil Woodford -- the City legend whose portfolios have thrashed the FTSE All-Share by 200% during the 15 years to this past October.

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In the meantime, please stay tuned for my next verdict on a FTSE 100 share.


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Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On January 30, 2013, at 2:38 AM, popsranola wrote:

    That what they say, Tesco still the best Buy....Who do you believed then ? ........Tesco will be around for another 100 years or more......and your Income with it will ground in those years to come ! Will it be ?

  • Report this Comment On February 01, 2013, at 4:02 AM, Sotograndeman wrote:

    "I believe the company currently looks overpriced and reckon now does not look to be a good time to buy Tesco at 356 pence."

    The time to buy TSCO was a year ago when the stock plummeted and Warren Buffett was substantially increasing his holding, but there's still significant upside in the coming years.

    The author completely ignores the fact that Tesco has more in real estate value than the market cap of the whole company. His 'analysis' (I use the word loosely) is woefully inadequate. Just another gem from TMF.

    Long TSCO

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