Should I buy Tesco shares today?

A shopping basket filled with Tesco own-brand goods

Tesco (LSE: TSCO) shares have recently been climbing, and have delivered 10% and 16% one-month and six-month returns respectively. Tesco is the supermarket industry leader, holding 27% of the market share, and this places the firm in a solid position for growth. However, there are risks ahead for the FTSE 100 stalwart.

Tesco share price interest

As I referenced in a previous article, competitor Morrisons has accepted a £7bn bid from US private equity firm CD&R. The bidding war for Morrisons led to its share price soaring over 60%. This interest seems to have rubbed off on the wider supermarket industry, with Sainsbury’s and Tesco also seeing their shares jump 5% and 10% in the last month, respectively. Any takeover speculation is likely to benefit Tesco shares, even if an acquisition never comes to fruition. 

Not that the share price has been on an uninterrupted upward trajectory. The Tesco share price fell sharply in February, but it wasn’t anything to worry about. In early 2021, it announced a special 50.93p dividend would be paid to investors. This was made possible by the £5bn sale of its Asian businesses. The shares fell almost 30% in the process as it performed a share consolidation. This meant 15 new shares were issued for every 19 existing ones — and investors became £5bn richer in the process. 

Tesco currently boasts a healthy 3.91% dividend, significantly higher than the FTSE 100 average of 3.3%. This would make Tesco a great income addition to my portfolio, I feel, and is another reason I like the stock. 

Brexit problems

There are risks, however. Brexit food shortages have been exacerbated by the pandemic. This has sparked fears of increasing future food prices. In July, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) shop price index showed that average food prices had declined 0.8% year-on-year. However, BRC Chief Executive Helen Dickinson added that “rising commodity prices and Brexit red tape” were creating an unsustainable price environment for the UK supermarket sector. Moving forward, this could be a problem for Tesco shares.

In addition to price problems, the HGV driver shortage is putting increased strain on the sector. Analysts have estimated a shortfall of 90,000 drivers could lead to food shortages during Christmas and into 2022. This will inflate prices further and could also damage the Tesco share price.

A cheap buy?

Tesco shares are currently trading at a P/E ratio of 19x, significantly above the FTSE 100 average of 15.8x. However, I expect this number to drop if Tesco is able to meet its earnings targets for the quarter. It reported a 13% increase in like-for-like sales in Q1, which should help drive up earnings. 

Aside from this, the UK supermarket sector is a good defensive play, I feel. People will always need food. Although Brexit is already causing problems, I don’t believe these will be too heavily reflected in share prices. Overall, although don’t think Tesco shares will make any crazy gains in the near future, I like Tesco as a solid income option for my portfolio.

The post Should I buy Tesco shares today? appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.

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Dylan Hood has no position in any shares mentioned above. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Morrisons and Tesco. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

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