Deals and IPOs

Winners and losers in Safeway deal (Hint: You’re one)


Cerberus Capital Management's $9 billion-plus deal to buy grocery giant Safeway is a tie-up that should be a win for the consumer.

If approved, the deal announced Thursday would produce a formidable foe within the grocery space once Cerberus joins its Albertsons chain with Safeway. The resulting grocery behemoth of more than 2,400 stores would be nearly as big as rival Kroger's 2,640 supermarkets and multidepartment stores.

Still, some analysts noted that the offer price was lower than expected.

In a report Friday, Jefferies analysts wrote that the $40 offer price was below the $45 to $50 that many had hoped for.

(Read more: More M&A activity to come: Scaramucci)

Meanwhile, Deutsche Bank analysts wrote in a report that the offer price seemed "too low," citing the stock's slump following the close Thursday.

The winners

Cerberus' offer price represented a valuation below that of historic deals struck within the grocery space, including Harris Teeter's acquisition by Kroger.

Despite the discount, Jefferies Managing Director Mark Wiltamuth described the deal as a win for shareholders.

"The shareholders very much won here," he said, adding that the bid represents a 17 percent premium since Safeway disclosed last month it was in talks with an unnamed bidder.

(Watch: Safeway snatched up by PE firm)

Jefferies pegged the Safeway deal at 5.8 times forward enterprise value of its core grocery business divided by EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization), below that of Kroger's acquisition of Harris Teeter at 7.2x EV/EBITDA. Wiltamuth noted that "Harris Teeter was viewed a strong retail player generating strong results."

While the Safeway deal looks inexpensive in comparison to other grocery deals, Wiltamuth said it signaled that Cerberus would need to improve Safeway's core grocery business. Still, Cerberus was able to snag an attractive valuation, he added.

Safeway snatched up by PE firm

"They haven't consistently grown same-store sales. I think they'll have to focus on sharpening price for the consumer and hopefully that will resonate and they'll start to get better sales," he said about Safeway.

"I do think the consumer is going to win since Safeway is going to be focused on lower prices, and that's a shift for the company. Previously, they've felt like they're prices were competitive," he said.

(Read more: Buyout barons ride market to $2.6 billion payday)

The losers

As Safeway's level of price competition increases, the grocery industry will likely feel ricochets.

"The industry in general could become more price competitive so that's a net negative for the industry," Wiltamuth said.

Deutsche Bank analysts foresee the erosion of Kroger's price advantage.

They noted the deal "would create a formidable competitor for Kroger, particularly in markets such as Phoenix, Denver, LA, and Dallas. Cerberus has proven to be a highly-effective operator, and we expect them to reinvest cost savings/synergies into lower prices, which could erode KR's pricing advantage."

—By CNBC's Katie Little. Follow her on Twitter @KatieLittle