Why the Woolworths share price could hit $30 in quick time

The Woolworths Limited (ASX: WOW) share price could soar from its current level of around $23.57 to above $30 according to noted market commentator Richard Coppleson.

As Mr Coppleson told the Australian Financial Review (AFR),

Woolworths was a great company to own for a very long time and then poor management really stuffed them up. But remember that Coles used to be the basket case that everyone used to laugh at. Now if you mention Woolies people say, ‘I’ve got no interest. It’s a five-year turnaround story.’

This is a great contrarian sign that no one believes it can turn around. It’s when everyone takes their eyes off the ball that things can start happening. There’s a new management team in there. The institutions are massively underweight. So if they do start showing signs of a turnaround that share price is going to rally for a long, long time. Forget $20, it’ll be $30 before anyone realises it.

Coles was in a similar situation prior to being taken over my Wesfarmers Ltd (ASX: WES) in 2007, with falling same-store-sales (SSS) and struggling to compete against Woolworths. Since then, Coles has grown its revenues and recorded 27 consecutive quarters of SSS growth. Now the shoe is on the other foot.

But Woolworths and new CEO Brad Banducci are taking steps to turn Woolies around. The group is disposing of its underperforming Masters hardware business and any positive news on that front is likely to be a positive for investors.

It’s also clear the group has already some small signs of improvement in its core supermarkets business – mostly as a result of slashing prices – which the retailer needed to do.

Then there’s the AFR report that Woolies may be looking to do something with the 75% holding in the ALH hotels business – worth an estimated $3 billion.

Woolworths has already announced plans to sell its EziBuy business too, and could potentially dispose of its petrol stations and convenience stores business to focus on its core operations of supermarkets.

Foolish takeaway

With reports that institutional investors are underweight Woolworths, any positive signs of a turnaround from the retailer could see them all topping up their holdings – and the share price could soar from here.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King owns shares in Woolworths and Wesfarmers. You can follow Mike on Twitter @TMFKinga

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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