Addicted to Wal-Mart…

August 1, 2005

Coinstar (CSTR), which filed its Q late Friday, is showing a growing dependence of Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) that definitely seems worth paying closer attention to, given the nature of the agreement. In the recent Q, Coinstar noted that 28% of its revenues were from Wal-Mart, up from 4.7 percent a year earlier. Most of that is a result of Coinstar’s $235 million acquisition of vending company ACMI last summer.

Even if you want to ignore that heavy dependence on Wal-Mart, it’s hard to overlook a brief note buried in Coinstar’s risk factors that says that Wal-Mart can terminate the contract “at any time for any reason”. Though the Q doesn’t mention any penalty, it’s hard to imagine a fee that would really impact Wal-Mart, given its size. But it’s pretty easy to see how the threat of losing 28% of their revenues could be worrisome to Coinstar.

BTW…if you haven’t read Gretchen Morgenson’s column yesterday on stock analysts being frozen out by CFOs, it’s definitely worth reading. Just another reason why it makes sense to kick the tires yourself, instead of relying on a so-called expert opinion before buying a stock.

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