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Which Dollar Store, If Any, is Worth Your Investment Dollars?

dollar stores stock forecast

Key Points

  • If foot traffic is an indication, dollar stores continue to capture the retail dollars of consumers. 
  • Dollar stores frequently go where the big box retailers won’t which is ideal in a recessionary environment. 
  • However, early reports from at least one dollar store chain suggests that sales may not be translating to earnings growth.  
  • Inflation is affecting these companies in higher labor costs at the same time they are planning expansion. 
  • Dollar General may be the best of the bunch for investors considering total return.  
  • 5 stocks we like better than Dollar General

Dollar stores have been winning the battle for retail dollars for the last few years. Since the onset of the global Covid-19 pandemic, dollar stores saw significant increases in foot traffic. Some of the biggest names in this space are Dollar General Corp. NYSE: DG, Dollar Tree Inc. NASDAQ: DLTR, and Five Below, Inc. NASDAQ: FIVE.  

According to the analytics firm, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar posted year-over-year (YOY) growth in foot traffic of 10% and 18% respectively. Dollar General posted a small decline. 

One catalyst for dollar stores is their location. Many of these chains position themselves in small towns and more rural locations that large retailers such as Walmart Inc. NYSE: WMT will shy away from due to low population density.  

But while these stores effectively capture retail dollars, does that make them good investments? And if so which one may be worth buying now?  

Pay Attention to the Guidance 

Many dollar stores will report quarterly earnings in the next few weeks. Dollar General previewed their upcoming earnings on February 23, and the market responded harshly.  

The company reported market share gains in both consumable and non-consumable products. That being said, same-store sales growth for the quarter reached 5.7%. That number was below the consensus expectation of 6.6%.  

Furthermore, Dollar General lowered their earnings per share (EPS) expectations to $2.91 to $2.96 versus previous guidance of $3.15 to $3.30 and a consensus estimate of $3.26.  

And Dollar General’s competitors face similar headwinds. In January, one analyst issued a rare Sell rating on Dollar Tree stock citing margin pressure as consumers shift towards low-margin consumer products.  

Inflation Remains a Problem 

Inflation isn’t just affecting the consumer. Dollar stores are dealing with higher labor costs. That is eating away at an advantage that dollar stores had over competitors. That is, the ability to bring national buying power to remote locations while offering a low labor and operations cost.  

The latter part of that thesis is being tested. And many of these companies have large expansion plans for 2023 that are also likely to pressure earnings. Data from states that Five Below is planning to open 200 new stores this year and Dollar General is expanding its Popshelf concept to 300 locations this year.  

The Winner Is … 

Dollar General stands out to me for a few reasons. First, the store is aggressively opening several stores in 2023. To be fair, they’re not the only dollar store doing this. But I’ve written before about Dollar General’s intentional model to be where their customers are likely to be.  

Second, if the company hits even the low end of its current earnings guidance, it will post YOY earnings growth of about 4%. And if the company hits the average of analysts’ guidance for the next four quarters, it will post a 14% gain.  

But here’s where I believe the third reason to buy DG stock comes into play. Let’s say the earnings recession continues. Dollar General’s EPS could come in around 9% lower than expected at the pace of their just-released earnings. But even if we go conservatively to 10%, they still would post a 3% YOY gain.  

And you get a dividend that yields about 1%. That’s an outstanding dividend, but with a payout ratio of around 19%, it’s sustainable and could have some room to go higher.  

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Should you invest $1,000 in Dollar General right now?

Before you consider Dollar General, you'll want to hear this.

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While Dollar General currently has a "Hold" rating among analysts, top-rated analysts believe these five stocks are better buys.

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Chris Markoch
About The Editor

Chris Markoch

Editor & Contributing Author

Retirement, Individual Investing

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Companies Mentioned in This Article

CompanyMarketRank™Current PricePrice ChangeDividend YieldP/E RatioConsensus RatingConsensus Price Target
Dollar General (DG)
4.8662 of 5 stars
4.87 / 5 stars
Dollar Tree (DLTR)
4.6305 of 5 stars
4.63 / 5 stars
$106.73+4.1%N/A-23.25Moderate Buy$142.45
Five Below (FIVE)
4.4557 of 5 stars
4.46 / 5 stars
$104.23+3.3%N/A19.59Moderate Buy$169.50
Walmart (WMT)
4.644 of 5 stars
4.64 / 5 stars
$69.79-0.9%1.19%29.87Moderate Buy$70.83
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