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Whole Foods will add millions of members to Amazon Prime: Morgan Stanley

  • Amazon's "price cuts, Prime Now and other investment will pressure profitability, but we also see Whole Foods Market driving faster Prime sub growth," Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak writes.
  • The analyst estimated 38 percent of Whole Foods customers, or about 5 million households, are not Amazon Prime subscribers.
  • The internet giant is crushing the market so far this year. Its shares have risen 33 percent year to date through Wednesday versus the S&P 500's 12 percent return.

Now that Amazon officially owns Whole Foods Market, one top Wall Street firm predicts the internet giant expanding into the physical grocery store market will boost its other businesses.

Morgan Stanley reiterated its overweight rating for Amazon shares, saying millions of Whole Foods shoppers will likely sign up for Amazon Prime.

Amazon's "price cuts, Prime Now and other investment will pressure profitability, but we also see Whole Foods Market driving faster Prime sub growth," analyst Brian Nowak wrote in a note to clients Thursday.

Nowak reaffirmed his $1,150 price target for Amazon, representing 15 percent upside from Wednesday's close.

The analyst estimated 38 percent of Whole Foods customers, or about 5 million households, are not Amazon Prime subscribers.

"We expect Amazon to convert half of these shoppers between now and the end of 2019," he wrote. "We see AMZN's Prime member growth and engagement, Echo device sales, and consumer web traffic/interest driving solid top line trends and GMV [gross merchandise volume] per customer growth."

Nowak also predicts Whole Foods sales will grow by 12 percent annually through 2022. It will reach 3.3 percent market share of the US grocery market during the next five years from an estimated 2.1 percent at year end 2017, according to the analyst.

"Growth will come from new shopper growth, which we see inflecting from more competitive pricing and increased convenience," Nowak said.

Amazon is crushing the market so far this year. Its shares have risen 33 percent year to date through Wednesday versus the S&P 500's 12 percent return.