Investor Peter Lynch is famous for getting investment ideas from the businesses he saw in everyday life. For many Americans, it's not uncommon to see a Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA 0.74%) location (known in the U.S. as Walgreens) while driving around town. Although that fact alone wouldn't be a good reason to buy the stock, there are some exciting aspects to Walgreens' business that are worth a closer look.
For investors seeking a stable, dividend-paying business with some exciting growth initiatives in the works, Walgreens may fit the bill. But before buying shares, here are three things about the business that all smart investors know.
1. Walgreens is a Dividend Aristocrat
Investing for dividend income is a common strategy, especially for investors in or near retirement. However, not all dividend-paying stocks are good investments. It's important to find companies in good financial shape to ensure the dividend is safe, and it's nice to find companies with track records of raising their dividends.
A great place to find companies that fit this description is in the list of Dividend Aristocrats. To earn this title, a company must raise its annual dividend for 25 consecutive years or more. As of the end of June, there were 65 such companies in the S&P 500. One is Walgreens, which has raised its dividend for 46 years.
Due to this yearly raise and the stock's recent fall, alongside the rest of the market, Walgreens currently has a dividend yield of 6%, the highest it's ever been. To put that into perspective, the S&P 500 as a whole has a dividend yield of only 1.8%. This yield not only puts cash in investors' pockets but also provides protection against continued downward stock price pressure.
2. Walgreens is branching out into the healthcare space
In addition to growing its core business, Walgreens is also building a healthcare initiative that was originally called Walgreens Health but has been renamed U.S. Healthcare. This new segment was created at the beginning of the 2022 fiscal year with the goal of becoming a leading provider of local healthcare services while offering better experiences and improved health outcomes for consumers.
U.S. Healthcare reports as its own segment and currently consists of an organically developed healthcare services business as well as majority positions in a primary care provider and a specialty pharmacy integrator.
The U.S. Healthcare segment had $622 million in sales and accounted for only 1.9% of Walgreens overall revenue in Q4 of 2022, which ended in Aug. 31. However, the company expects U.S Healthcare revenue to reach $11 billion to $12 billion by the end of fiscal 2025, an impressive number for such a new initiative. It's clear that management feels this healthcare initiative will grow to be a material contributor to the overall business.
3. Walgreens is incredibly cheap
Walgreens currently trades for only 0.2 times trailing sales and 5.2 times trailing earnings. Both of these multiples are near all-time lows. Walgreens also trades at a discount to one of its main competitors. CVS Health, which has also expanded its core business into the healthcare space, has a price-to-sale ratio of 0.4 and a price-to-earnings multiple of 14.3.
To be clear, Walgreens has not been a winning investment over the very long term. However, the pivot into healthcare could provide an opportunity for the company to reverse its fortunes. The incredibly cheap price combined with the strong dividend yield makes Walgreens a compelling consideration for healthcare exposure in any portfolio.