Healthy Investing = Wealth #5

by | Jul 16, 2003 | Archives

Recent messages have looked at why investing in the health revolution makes sense. Yesterday's message reviewed how this trend is in full bloom, how big business is diluting the bandwagon and one place to watch for the next opportunity beyond organic to rise.

Today's message reviews a second place to watch for and cash in one this shift is at Wild Oats.

Wild Oats was founded in 1987 with the purchase of Crystal Market, the only vegetarian natural foods store in Boulder, Colorado. The company as is so many success stories had no experience in the natural foods business, but they hired good employees and the timing was such that the company skyrocketed along with the rapid growth of the natural food industry.

They opened their first supermarket-sized store in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and this store remains one of the busiest natural foods stores in the U.S.

Wild Oats offers a complete selection of natural foods and supplements. The company also features environmentally conscious and cruelty-free body care and household products including an expanding selection of its own line of private label products.

Wild Oats claims to be committed to provide customers with the best selection of natural foods and health care products in a friendly, informative setting. They also strive to be a proactive member of its community, contributing to the lives of their customers, the communities they do business in and their staff.

Wild Oats supports the local economy as much as possible by offering locally produced and manufactured products including organic and locally grown produce.

Wild Oats also supports the community by actively giving back through organized events and philanthropic giving. The company founded 5% Days, a program that earmarks 5% of the day's pretax sales to a selected non-profit organization.

Wild Oats continues with rapid growth and last year had sales nearing one billion dollars gaining market share through acquisitions and new store development. Their growth peaked in 1999 with the addition of 47 stores in a single year and they now operate 99 stores in 23 states and Canada.

In 2001, Perry Odak took over the reins as President and CEO of Wild Oats, joining them after a successful tenure as CEO of Ben & Jerry's Homemade, where, he was credited with building a successful business while maintaining the company's community focus and entrepreneurial spirit. The Company grew by acquiring small natural foods stores and in 1993 and 1994, Wild Oats was named one of the “500 Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America” by Inc. Magazine and became a public company with their stock traded on the NASDAQ under the symbol “OATS.”

Shares started in the $10 range, rose to $20 and split in 1998. They then rose to over $20 a share again and split once more in 2000. Then prices plummeted down below $5 during the stock market down turn. They then rose to the $15 range in early 1992 before drifting back into the $10 range where they are at this time. This puts them with a P/E ratio in the range of 38 (a bit high).

You can learn more about this business by going to Merri and I along with Francesca and Jake were a bit tired out after all the traveling and playing last month on the Oregon Coast and waiting to catch our planes…so we had a thought…let's all visit Wild Oats near my mother's house. We walked in the door, suddenly felt wonderful, had a fresh organic juice and came away revived and happy…ready for long flights. I suggest a visit to you!

Next message looks at how investing in health and the environment can even produce magic! Until then may all your health and investing be magical.