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Walgreens Boots Alliance Is Near Its 52-Week Low: Is Now the Time to Buy?

By David Jagielski – Feb 8, 2020 at 10:00AM

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The stock is down 11% in just the past three months.

Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA -0.47%) isn't off to a good start in 2020. Although last year wasn't great, with the stock down 14% and coming nowhere near the S&P 500's gains of 30%, the stock has continued to fall this year and it's now getting close to its low for the past 12 months. At around $53 a share, the stock is near its 52-week low of $49.03. The last time the stock dipped like this was back in August.

That said, it's a good time for investors to evaluate whether Walgreens is a good buy or if it's likely to continue falling lower. Let's take a closer look.

Earnings are dragging down the company's performance thus far

The reason the company's been off to a poor start this year is that its first-quarter 2020 report wasn't as impressive as investors were hoping for -- with sales of $34.34 billion narrowly missing analyst expectations of $34.6 billion. It should be even less concerning given that a key part of the reason for the decline is that the company has been de-emphasizing tobacco products. Otherwise, the pharmacy retailer may have easily surpassed estimates.

Although it's a narrow miss that's easily explainable, the stock has struggled to post gains since then as investors have been quick to push the sell button on the stock. Part of the reason is likely due to the company's results last year when Walgreens underwhelmed investors as well. When the bears are out and looking for a reason to sell shares of a company, it doesn't take much to sink a stock.

Medical products in a pharmacy.

Image source: Getty Images.

Why there's reason for optimism

Despite the bearishness, it's not all doom and gloom for Walgreens as the company can turn things around. For one thing, the company is making significant changes at its locations, including offering more services in-store that give customers a reason to visit the store themselves and buy products there, as opposed to buying online from a competitor. The company is also looking at launching a drone delivery service that could make it very competitive with those very same online retailers.

These are just a couple of the ways that Walgreens can inject some life into its quarterly numbers. And a small boost may be all the company needs. The good news is that Walgreens didn't miss estimates by a lot in Q1, meaning that there may not be a lot for the company to do to bridge that gap and get investors excited about the stock again.

Is the stock too cheap to ignore?

One of the benefits of a stock that's dipped in value is that shares become cheap and it's an excellent opportunity to buy low and potentially sell higher later on when it recovers. At just 13 times earnings and two times its book value, Walgreens' stock is trading at a very attractive valuation, making it an appealing option for value investors to consider. Even growth investors may see a bargain given the stock's forward price-to-earnings ratio, which is less than nine.

As an added bonus, the stock also pays a dividend, which now, as a result of the decline, is yielding 3.6% per year. That's well above the S&P 500 average of 1.85% and it can be a great way to pad the stock's returns, or at the very least, offset its losses should it continue to fall.

Overall, Walgreens is a top healthcare stock for investors to own that is not very volatile, pays a great dividend, still has many growth opportunities and is also not an expensive buy. It may only be a matter of time before the stock rallies. Investors may want to buy Walgreens before that happens.

David Jagielski has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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