Amazon’s recent purchase of Whole Foods first appeared to catch flatfooted Hain Celestial Group, whose stock (HAIN) fell 10% the following week.
At the time, Hain Celestial hadn’t released earnings in over a year, and though a clean bill of accounting health was proclaimed shortly after the Amazon-Whole Foods merger hit the press, good auditing news made no difference. The fear of God had already been put into brick-and-mortar investors, including those for the organic & natural “better-for-you” food company.
The apparent reason: Hain’s second biggest customer is also Whole Foods’ largest supplier, a distributor by the name of United Natural Foods. The logic being that with its new purchase, Amazon will now squeeze United Natural, which by osmosis would ultimately do the same up the supply chain.
So is Amazon’s buyout of Whole Foods really a bad thing for Hain Celestial?
Nope. Just the opposite, actually.
Despite accepting margin compression as inevitable, actual price decreases post-merger have been precise and limited to high volume products (think bananas, salmon, and eggs). Across-the-board cuts have simply been not the case.
Moreover, the buyout of Whole Foods created the world’s first genuine omnichannel grocery business, one piggybacking off Amazon’s history-making and constantly-growing e-commerce business. Already, foot traffic in Whole Foods stores is reported to have increased by 25%, and as Amazon syncs the newly purchased physical footprint with its nascent e-commerce grocery businesses, the Amazon-Whole Foods tie-up very likely equates to increased volume for Hain Celestial products—both in-store and online, and likely for a long time given the relatively low base of that business.
And with the company’s stock now UP more than 12% since the merger accouncement, the market seems to agree: Amazon-Whole Foods is certainly “Better-for-HAIN”.