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Is Kroger going to buy Whole Foods?

5 overwhelming stats about Whole Foods

Will $6 bottles of asparagus H2O shortly be entrance to a Kroger, Ralphs or Harris Teeter nearby you? Whole Foods batch shot adult 5% Thursday and quickly rose again Friday on gibberish that supermarket aristocrat Kroger competence wish to buy a uneasy organic grocer.

But is Whole Foods (WFM) unequivocally for sale? Investors competence need to take these rumors with several grains of Himalayan pinkish sea salt.

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For one, Whole Foods is still confronting many challenges, mostly stemming from bad press about a high prices. The association staid charges of cost gouging with regulators in New York City final year, yet a company’s Whole Paycheck picture persists.

Who could forget a shred on John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” HBO uncover a year ago that mocked Whole Foods? (HBO is a corporate cousin of CNNMoney; both are owned by Time Warner.)

Oliver’s uncover featured feign ads for a retard of ice with an avocado offset on tip for $25.99, a pomegranate that listened to NPR for $64.99, granola blown behind and onward between dual fans for $300, and tilapia wearing yoga pants for $84.99.

Customers aren’t laughing, though. They have fled Whole Foods. Same-store sales, that measures how good stores open during slightest a year are doing, have depressed for a past 4 quarters. Analysts are awaiting another 2.1% dump this entertain as well.

A pierce to attract some-more civic Millennials with new 365 by Whole Foods stores in large cities competence not compensate off either. Wall Street analysts are presaging that gain for Whole Foods will tumble this year and subsequent year.

Whole Foods needs to stop a draining somehow. The batch is still down some-more than 10% this year notwithstanding a new partnership scuttlebutt. Shares fell in 2014 and 2015 as good and are some-more than 50% next their all-time high from 2013.

Related: The new ‘Big Shorts’ — Whole Foods and Weight Watchers

That’s substantially a reason because a association has been a theme of takeover rumors for a past few years.

Traders have speculated that privately-held supermarket giants Publix and Albertsons (which also owns Safeway) competence be meddlesome in Whole Foods. But zero has come to pass.

Enter Kroger.

It arrange of creates clarity because Kroger (KR) competence wish to acquire Whole Foods on a cheap. It’s been an assertive acquirer of informal bondage in a past few years.

Kroger many recently scooped adult Roundy’s, that operates hundreds of stores in Wisconsin and Illinois.

But Kroger already has a large organic business of a own. It’s not transparent because a association would wish or need a headaches that come with Whole Foods.

There were rumors progressing this year as good that Kroger competence wish Whole Foods opposition The Fresh Market. But The Fresh Market wound adult going private, offered out to Apollo Global Management (APO) in March.

Spokespeople during Kroger and Whole Foods both declined to criticism on a conjecture Friday morning. But Dealreporter had a story Friday indicating that Kroger is not looking to buy Whole Foods. Shares of Whole Foods dipped following that report.

That’s substantially for a best. Kroger has a possess problems to understanding with. Plunging prices of rural line have led to reduce prices during grocery stores around a country.

Related: Your grocery check is cheaper. Here’s why

Food deflation competence be good news for shoppers, yet it is destroying distinction margins during large supermarket chains. Kroger’s batch is down scarcely 30% this year. Rivals SuperValu (SVU) and Sprouts (SFM) have plunged some-more than 20% as well.

Kroger also has to contend with increasing foe from Walmart (WMT), Target (TGT), Costco (COST), Trader Joe’s and even Amazon (AMZN, Tech30) — that has stretched into a food smoothness business with Prime Fresh.

Whole Foods has a possess square of a smoothness business interjection to a investment in prohibited startup Instacart. But is that adequate to spin Whole Foods around? It’s not looking that way.

Tough foe and a bad repute competence continue to haunt Whole Foods for a while.

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