Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ:WBA) hasn't had a great year in 2019, and over the past five years, the stock has plummeted by more than 20%. However, the good news is that the company has been making strides to add value and innovate its business, which should attract more customers in the process.
Whether Walgreens is doing enough is the big question. In order to determine if the stock is a good buy today, it's important to take a closer look at some of the changes it's made, as well as how the company has been performing of late.
Stores to provide more service-based options
One of the ways Walgreens can get customers into its stores is by offering things they can't get online. The company recently announced that it would be partnering with Jenny Craig, and together they'll be launching 100 "Jenny Craig at Walgreens" locations across the country.
It's a first for Jenny Craig to offer its services at a retailer like Walgreens. At these locations, customers will be able to interact with Jenny Craig consultants one-on-one and get help with meal planning.
Rival CVS Health (NYSE:CVS) is offering more services inside of its stores, which include assisting discharged patients as well as those who are struggling with chronic conditions. It's a good long-term strategy that could bring in more customers and prevent the stores from being too reliant on product sales.
Walgreens offering customers additional reasons to visit a store gives the company the opportunity to improve its sales. In its most recent quarter, the company saw comparable-store sales rise by 3.4% in its retail pharmacy U.S. division. However, as a result of de-emphasizing tobacco, comparable-store sales were down 1.2%.
It's crucial to the company's growth to find more ways to fill the void left by tobacco. If it's able to bring in more traffic, that's a good start. Walgreens is also looking to get leaner as it is planning to close 200 stores in the U.S. However, the store closures represent less than 3% of its total locations in the U.S. and the company believes that it will result in "minimal disruption to customers and patients.
Taking a page out of Amazon's playbook
Another way that Walgreens can attract customers is by offering more aggressive delivery options. Walgreens isn't going to be sitting idly by while Amazon offers next-day and even same-day delivery, potentially stealing sales in the process.
In September, Walgreens announced it will be the first retailer in the country to test a drone delivery service. Alphabet-owned Wing Aviation will partner with Walgreens to offer "unparalleled speed and convenience" on health and other products. Delivery times will be measured in minutes.
The project is still in its very early stages, but Walgreens notes that there's significant opportunity to expand the delivery service. It estimates that 78% of the U.S. population lives within five miles of one of its stores. With drone delivery, Walgreens could eliminate the need for customers to shop on Amazon if they know that their local Walgreens' purchases will arrive in just minutes.
The company hasn't provided an estimate as to when a wider rollout may occur. However, it's safe to say that it's likely a long-term project. If Amazon hasn't perfected drone delivery, it's not likely that Walgreens will anytime soon.
Walgreens is in good financial shape
Given the ambitious projects Walgreens is undertaking -- drone delivery and revamping its stores with additional services -- it's crucial to generate cash so the company can have it in hand. The good news is that Walgreens is in great shape.
The company's free cash flow over the trailing 12-month period totaled more than $4.4 billion. Walgreens has also consistently generated strong profits over the years, with its bottom line this past year falling just under the $4 billion mark as its gross margin suffered a dip while operating expenses increased by 2.7%. However, it's still a solid result overall.
The stock provides investors with a lot of value for their money
Walgreens' stock price has fallen more than 13% so far this year, which has made the stock an attractive buy. It's trading at just 14 times earnings and a little more than two times book value. For a value-oriented investor, there's a lot of good value in Walgreens' stock.By comparison, rival CVS has not been as consistent as Walgreens, recording a loss in its most recent fiscal year. It's also a bit more expensive, trading at more than 21 times earnings.
Walgreens also has a superior dividend yield of 3.1% compared to CVS' 2.7% payout. Walgreens is also a Dividend Aristocrat, an exclusive club that CVS is not a part of. Walgreens has increased its dividend for more than 40 consecutive years, giving investors incentive to hold the healthcare stock for the very long term.