Those of us who own shares of Whole Foods Market
Yucaipa Companies LLC said it took the stake believing the shares were "undervalued by the market at the time they were acquired," and that it believes "there are substantial opportunities for the company to improve operations and its pricing image while maintaining its high-quality product offering." Yucaipa also plans to share ideas with the company. Let's hope they're good ones.
Yucaipa is Ron Burkle's investment fund, and he is well known as a billionaire supermarket investor. Even more interesting, he owned a stake in Wild Oats, which Whole Foods acquired (to my increasing consternation). Yucaipa did very well in that deal, pocketing millions from that 18% stake, having jumped in right before the sale.
Burkle's supermarket investing legacy also includes having once had major stakes in Ralphs and Food 4 Less, both of which merged with Fred Meyer, which was ultimately acquired by Kroger
Many seem to view the development as a vote of confidence from a "billionaire investor." I'm not always that enthusiastic about such "votes of confidence." I remember when Crocs'
Meanwhile, did Burkle's stake in Wild Oats do much for that company? You may recall it struggled and couldn't hold a candle to Whole Foods' business strength, and of course, Burkle's stake in Wild Oats seemed to have more to do with selling the business than fixing it.
So this particular "vote of confidence" gives me the creeps. As a shareholder, I can't say I mind the 22% pop yesterday, but I don't think it has anything to do with Whole Foods' business, except as rather short-term speculation. Personally, I hope recent developments and pressures won't end up derailing the company, and the things that shareholders should revere about its business and mission.