Whole Foods once was a darling stock. About the time of Hurricane Katrina they lost a store that got flooded in New Orleans, and learned that they had over expanded in the NYC area cannibalizing same store sales.Now they have learned that it takes several years for a newly opened store to attract a regular customer base. So they limit the rate of new store openings to keep the earnings penalty acceptable.But their measured growth approach gives competitors and other supermarkets plenty to time to copy their best products and get ready to compete. No one does it better than Whole Foods. They have the best selection and a strong network of dedicated suppliers. Others can copy but are tiny in comparison.Contrast that growth strategy with the big box stores or most concept restaurants. Most want to open as many stores as possible to take advantage of the buzz that goes with the brand. They borrow money and/or sell stock to grow as fast as they can. And some get over extended and fade fast.Whole Foods is relatively conservative in their management style, and should prosper over the next 10 yrs or so as that is the time needed to build out to cover most major cities in the US.Last time around they learned to do a better job of bringing in more economical products when customers feel the pinch of economic slowdown. Their core upscale customers are probably not impacted at all when it comes to groceries, but the low end wannabes will buy gasoline before food.Some would say that wider acceptance and advertizing of organics can only help Whole Foods. They are still the king of the trade if you are serious about it. And food quality there is hard to beat.Timing is everything. I see an opportunity to accumulate as the company earnings will continue growing. But it might be a bit soon yet.One negative. Their CEO has been known to make political statements that do nothing for their business. I hope they learn to gag him.
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