Is Now the Time to Buy Tesco?


LONDON -- I'm always searching for shares that can help ordinary investors like you make money from the stock market.

So right now I am trawling through the FTSE 100 and giving my verdict on every member of the blue-chip index. Simply put, I'm hoping to pinpoint the very best buying opportunities in today's uncertain market.

Today I am looking at Tesco to determine whether you should consider buying the shares at 356 pence.

I am assessing each company on several ratios:

  • Price/Earnings (P/E): Does the share look good value when compared against its competitors?

  • Price/Earnings-to-Growth (PEG): Does the share look good value factoring in predicted growth?

  • Yield: Does the share provide a solid income for investors?

  • Dividend Cover: Is the dividend sustainable?

So let's look at the numbers:



3-Year EPS growth

Projected P/E



3-Year Dividend Growth

Dividend Cover


356 pence







The consensus analyst estimate for next year's earnings per share is 32 pence (down 14%), and the dividend per share is 14.7 pence (no change).

Trading on a projected P/E of 11, Tesco appears to be slightly more expensive than its main London-listed competitors, Wm Morrison Supermarkets and J Sainsbury, which trade on forward P/Es of 9.5 and 10.2, respectively. Unfortunately, Tesco's higher P/E and falling near-term growth give a negative PEG ratio, which cannot help with my analysis.

Tesco supports a 4.2% yield, which is slightly lower than the company's major competitors, which offer an average yield of 4.6%. That said, Tesco has a three-year compounded dividend growth rate of 14%, implying that the payout will continue to grow in line with the company's competitors.

Tesco's dividend is around two-and-a-half times covered, giving the company plenty room for further payout growth.

Does Tesco deserve its current premium over its competitors?
I have always been a fan of Tesco. However, I currently believe the shares look overvalued. Although the company has made significant progress restructuring and reorganizing its business since the profit warning last year, I think Tesco still has a long way to go before it is back on track.

Still, Tesco has something its major U.K. competitors do not have, and that is international diversification. In particular, Tesco has access to the fast-growing economies of Southeast Asia. Indeed, I can see that during the last quarter of 2012, Tesco saw sales growth of 8% in this region.

Unfortunately, Tesco's international presence does expose it to the hostile economic environment within Europe, where sales fell 2.4% during the last quarter of 2012. Furthermore, Tesco's highly criticized U.S. operations continue to be a drag on the company. However, Tesco has initiated a review of its U.S. business, and a plan is expected to be announced in April.

Nonetheless, despite last year's worries about the company's future prospects, Tesco has defied the critics, and its turnaround plan appears to be making some progress.

So overall, despite Tesco's improving outlook, I believe the company currently looks overpriced and reckon now does not look to be a good time to buy Tesco at 356 pence.

More FTSE opportunities
Although I think now may not be the time to buy Tesco, I am more positive on the FTSE shares highlighted in "8 Dividend Plays Held by Britain's Super Investor." This exclusive report reveals the favorite income stocks owned by Neil Woodford -- the City legend whose portfolios have thrashed the FTSE All-Share by 200% during the 15 years to this past October.

The report, which explains the full investing logic behind Woodford's dividend strategy and his preferred blue chips, is free to all private investors. Just click here for your copy. But do hurry, as the report is available for a limited time only.

In the meantime, please stay tuned for my next verdict on a FTSE 100 share.

The article Is Now the Time to Buy Tesco? originally appeared on

Rupert Hargreaves and The Motley Fool own shares in Tesco. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Copyright © 1995 - 2013 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.