Food Stamps On the Rise, Long Lines at 24-Hour Retailers

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The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps, is causing big lines at 24-hour retailers such as Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT). Food stamp recipients’ cards are reloaded at midnight on the last day of the month causing many with pent up needs to crowd the stores in the hour prior to midnight so that they can be ready to cash in as soon as the funds are transmitted to their food stamp cards.

Wal-mart CEO William S. Simon first commented on the staggering jump in sales overnight and on the following day last year at a Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) conference when he said, “it’s real interesting to watch. About 11 p.m., customers start to come in and shop, fill their grocery basket with basic items…and mill about the store until midnight. Our sales for those first few hours on the first of the month are substantially and significantly higher. If you really think about it, the only reason somebody gets out in the middle of the night and buys baby formula is that they need it, and they’ve been waiting for it,” as quoted by Bloomberg Businessweek.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that the number of food stamp recipients has grown by 20 million over the last five years.  The U.S. Census Bureau says almost 50 million people live in poverty, which is the highest figure since record-keeping began 52 years ago. The bureau also figures that without the food stamp program, another 5 million would fall below the poverty line.

Here’s how dollar stores and grocery store stocks ended the year:

Safeway Inc. (NYSE:SWY): SWY shares recently traded at $21.04, down $0.14, or 0.66%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $15.93 to $25.43. Volume today was 2,593,551 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 6,093,320 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 14.22, while trailing earnings are $1.48 per share.

The Kroger Co. (NYSE:KR): KR shares recently traded at $24.22, down $0.23, or 0.94%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $21.09 to $25.85. Volume today was 1,787,783 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 4,973,140 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 12.50, while trailing earnings are $1.94 per share.

SUPERVALU Inc. (NYSE:SVU): SVU shares recently traded at $8.12, up $0.08, or 1%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $6.26 to $11.77. Volume today was 2,618,102 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 5,395,010 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 61.05, while trailing earnings are $0.13 per share.

Whole Foods Market, Inc. (NASDAQ:WFM): WFM shares recently traded at $69.58, down $0.36, or 0.51%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $47.83 to $74.45. Volume today was 997,516 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 1,722,610 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 36.05, while trailing earnings are $1.93 per share.

Dollar Tree, Inc. (NASDAQ:DLTR): DLTR shares recently traded at $83.11, down $0.95, or 1.13%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $48.51 to $84.51. Volume today was 985,864 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 1,834,800 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 22.16, while trailing earnings are $3.75 per share.

Dollar General Corporation (NYSE:DG): DG shares recently traded at $41.14, down $0.18, or 0.44%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $26.65 to $42.10. Volume today was 563,544 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 2,024,620 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 20.47, while trailing earnings are $2.01 per share.

99 Cents Only Stores (NYSE:NDN): NDN shares recently traded at $21.95, down $0.02, or 0.09%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $14.57 to $21.97. Volume today was 552,892 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 1,949,190 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 20.16, while trailing earnings are $1.09 per share.

Family Dollar Stores Inc. (NYSE:FDO): FDO shares recently traded at $57.66, down $0.13, or 0.22%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $41.31 to $60.53. Volume today was 467,318 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 1,005,240 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 18.48, while trailing earnings are $3.12 per share.

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