Why ‘superior operations’ puts Woolworths shares in this broker’s buy basket

Some brokers are anticipating increased earnings for Woolies.

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Key points

  • The ASX 200 had a pretty bleak hump day this Wednesday
  • But Woolworths shares are bucking the market with a strong gain
  • We look at what ASX brokers think of Woolies right now?

Investors enjoyed a solid day for the Woolworths Group Ltd (ASX: WOW) share price this Wednesday. At market close, Woolworths shares rose by a healthy 2.51% to $36.80. This move higher comes as the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) recorded a day in the red. The ASX 200 finished Wednesday down by 0.53% at just under 6,600 points.

But despite the boost today, it has still been a tough time for Woolworths shares of late. The supermarket giant remains down by 3.18% in 2022 thus far, as well as by 1% over the past 12 months. Today, Woolies remains around the same share price it was back in the pre-COVID highs of February 2020.

So with such a sluggish performance in recent months and years, could it be a good time to consider buying Woolworths shares today?

Is the Woolworths share price a buy today?

One broker who thinks so is investment bank Goldman Sachs. As my Fool colleague James Mickleboro covered last week, Goldman is currently rating Woolworths shares as a buy with a 12-month share price target of $41.70. That would result in a potential upside of close to 13% on current pricing.

Goldman stated it was “encouraged by the resilience and superior operations” of Woolworths, and is anticipating higher sales and earnings between now and FY2024.

But Goldman isn’t the only broker with an opinion on Woolies today.

As reported in The Australian, fellow broker UBS has just upgraded its rating on Woolworths from sell to neutral. Here’s what UBS had to say:

The removal of our bearish stance on supermarkets, increased earnings per share estimates across COL [Coles Group Ltd (ASX: COL)] and WOW, and greater confidence on Woolworths growing sales and expanding gross & EBIT margins, support the WOW rating upgrade.

UBS has also raised its own 12-month share price target to $37.

So we’ll have to see if Woolies shares are indeed heading higher over the next 12 months, as Goldman predicts, or will stay at a similar level to today, as estimated by UBS.

At the current Woolworths share price, this ASX 200 grocer has a market capitalisation of $44.67 billion, with a dividend yield of 2.55%.

Motley Fool contributor Sebastian Bowen has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has positions in and has recommended Goldman Sachs. The Motley Fool Australia has positions in and has recommended COLESGROUP DEF SET. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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