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Should you sell your Woolworths Limited shares?

Woolworths Limited (ASX: WOW) shares have been on a wild 24 months.

Source: Google Finance

Source: Google Finance

In that time, the Woolworths share price is down more than 41%.

A failed investment in home improvement, via the Masters brand and to a lesser extent, Home Timber & Hardware, was likely a catalyst for analysts issuing sell orders on the company’s shares.

But the biggest concern is competition in the supermarkets division, where Woolworths makes the bulk of its sales and profit. Woolworths’ supermarkets have come under intense pressure in recent years as managerial complacency, a resurgent Coles (owned by Wesfarmers Ltd (ASX: WES)) and Aldi squeezed profit margins.

With Dick Smith holdings Limited (ASX: DSH) long gone from the Woolworths portfolio of brands and Big W arguably lagging rival Kmart, there doesn’t appear much to get excited about.

That’s despite Woolworths shares changing hands for just 14x earnings.

Buy, Hold or Sell?

I recently sold my Woolworths shares because I was no longer convinced in the long-term profitability of the business. Without a home improvement offering and the prospect of a price war in supermarkets, Woolworths appears to have its back up against the wall.

Having said that, however, Woolworths does have a sophisticated and efficient supply chain and significant presence in key markets, so it’s not a complete write-off.

Personally, I'd rather look for other - faster growing - dividend shares to add to my portfolio, such as the one The Motley Fool's expert analysts hand-picked as their best dividend share idea for 2016.

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Motley Fool Contributor Owen Raszkiewicz does not have a financial interest in any company mentioned. Owen welcomes -- and encourages -- your feedback on Google+, LinkedIn or you can follow him on Twitter @ASXinvest.

The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not 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. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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