Walmart is ‘dead money’ as the Dow stock sits in a bear market, says trader

Costco is at all-time highs, Target is within reach of its best levels of the year, but Walmart has been left in the dust. The original big-box retailer sits in a bear market after punishing sell-offs this year.

Some say the stock is a no-touch.

“Stay away from it. I think it’s dead money,” David Seaburg, head of sales and trading at Cowen & Co., told CNBC’s “Trading Nation” on Tuesday.

The problem, he says, is the amount of cash Walmart has splashed to compete against more entrenched e-commerce players such as Amazon.

“Investors are really not appreciating how much of a spend it’s going to take to really compete within the e-commerce space,” said Seaburg. “The expense that they’re going to have to incur to get the scales is absolutely going to have an impact on margins, and I think that’s the part that people are just missing.”

Walmart agreed to acquire a majority stake in Indian e-commerce retailer Flipkart for $16 billion earlier this year. In 2016, Walmart laid out $3 billion for Jet.com to compete with Amazon on household goods deliveries.

Amazon investors put a premium on its growth story even at the expense of profitability. Seaburg says he doubts Walmart investors will have as much patience.

“The investor base is not in this story for just top-line acceleration. They’re in the story for earnings growth,” said Seaburg. “The investors at Walmart, in my opinion, aren’t going to stand by this stock for too long unless they can really continue to show the earnings growth.”

Stacey Gilbert, market strategist at Susquehanna, sees similar fickleness in the options market.

“When we look at Walmart, there is very little activity that’s showing any sort of trend, anything of interest,” said Gilbert on “Trading Nation” Tuesday. On Target and Costco, “there’s definitely more of a bullish tone in those names… But Walmart, nobody’s paying attention to it at all.”

Walmart is down 21 percent from its 52-week high set in late January, pushing it over the 20 percent threshold marking bear market territory. Costco set a new all-time high on Tuesday, while Target set a 52-week high in mid-June.

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Trading Nation is a multimedia financial news program that shows investors and traders how to use the news of the day to their advantage. This is where experts from across the financial world – including macro strategists, technical analysts, stock-pickers, and traders who specialize in options, currencies, and fixed income – come together to find the best ways to capitalize on recent developments in the market. Trading Nation: Where headlines become opportunities.

Michael Santoli

Michael Santoli joined CNBC in October 2015 as a Senior Markets Commentator, based at the network's Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.  Santoli brings his extensive markets expertise to CNBC's Business Day programming, with a regular appearance on CNBC's “Closing Bell (M-F, 3PM-5PM ET).   In addition, he contributes to CNBCand CNBC PRO, writing regular articles and creating original digital videos.

Previously, Santoli was a Senior Columnist at Yahoo Finance, where he wrote analysis and commentary on the stock market, corporate news and the economy. He also appeared on Yahoo Finance video programs, where he offered insights on the most important business stories of the day, and was a regular contributor to CNBC and other networks.

Follow Michael Santoli on Twitter @michaelsantoli

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