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Tim Lambert
Health Insurance Expansion Increases Appeal of Wal-Mart
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Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) did not get to be the world’s biggest retailer by missing opportunities.

It now sees one in health care; and is moving in a big way.

That is the only way that a company with a market capitalization of around $250 billion moves.  As health care is the largest component of the American economy, it is inevitable that Wal-Mart would expand its presence. Health insurance is now the area that Wal-Mart is moving to do more business. The Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare, requires Americans to buy health insurance.  To help facilitate the process, health insurance exchanges have been created.  These are software platforms that allow consumers to research, compare, and buy health insurance packages.

There many health insurance exchanges.

But there is only one Wal-Mart.  Its physical presence with about 11,000 stores is formidable, if not peerless.  So is just about every other aspect of Wal-Mart as a retail behemoth.  Its health insurance operations should add to that puissance.

Wal-Mart is doing fine without the health insurance service, thank you.  It is up more than 8 percent for 2014 (chart below).  By comparison, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (NYSE: SPY) has risen by around 7.75 percent.

Wal-Mart is simply too big, too well known, and too everything to be a stunning buy for income investors, growth investors, and value investors.  But there should be a place in every portfolio for “the biggest and the best.”

The move of Wal-Mart into health insurance clearly demonstrates that appeal.

The biggest and the best will also take advantage of opportunities.  Over time, that will take the share price higher.  That has obviously happened with Wal-Mart.  There is a dividend yield of around 2.50 percent, about one-quarter higher than the mean of under 2 percent for a member of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, that fills out the total return for the long term shareholders of Wal-Mart.


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