SHOP PHARMACY IN FOCUS: In the starting blocks for the e-prescription

VENLO (DPA-AFX) – The shop pharmacy is now a well-known address on the Internet. The pandemic has given the company based in Venlo, the Netherlands, a surge in growth. While the company is vying for customers in the race with closest competitors such as the Swiss DocMorris parent company Zur Rose, the industry is hoping for the introduction of the e-prescription in Germany. About the state of the company, what the analysts are saying and what the stocks are doing.

THAT’S ON AT SHOP APOTHEKE:

With a turnover of almost one billion euros, the shop pharmacy is one of the market leaders in Europe. In addition to over-the-counter medicines, cosmetics and certain foods are also on offer. In order to further expand its position, the company has made acquisitions in recent years. After taking over the former mother company Europa Apotheek in Venlo in November 2017, for example, Shop Apotheke acquired nu3 GmbH from Berlin, which specializes in fitness and sports nutrition, in 2018.

The online pharmacy market is considered lucrative because of its growth potential, but it is also highly competitive. Above all, size and strong logistics count in order to be able to attract customers. The internet giant Amazon is therefore also seen as a potential threat. And online providers such as Shop Apotheke themselves often lure with prices at which stationary pharmacies look old in comparison.

In Germany, stationary pharmacists have mixed feelings about the introduction of the electronic prescription. Because online pharmacies such as Shop Apotheke and Zur Rose hope that the e-prescription will give them a further boost. Your calculation: If the customer buys over-the-counter products from you online, he will in future be able to also order the prescription-only products – and vice versa.

While the e-prescription is already in practice in other countries such as the Netherlands or Switzerland, according to the current status, the nationwide introduction is planned for the beginning of 2022 in Germany. The shop pharmacy is also in the starting blocks for this. An additional team has been at the start in Berlin since last autumn to support the project and further strengthen the so-called e-health business in the years to come.

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To this end, the group is also relying on customer loyalty, for example through digital medication management, a trend that is becoming increasingly popular. Shop Apotheke has already made two acquisitions in this area this year, in Germany and in the Netherlands. In this way, the management around CEO Stefan Feltens is pushing ahead with his strategy of developing from a pure online retailer to an online pharmacy platform

Last year, Shop Apotheke went smoothly even without the e-prescription, thanks to the pandemic. The group adjusted the sales and profit forecasts several times in order to exceed them in the end. While things were going better operationally, the bottom line was that Shop Apotheke was still in the red. This was still the case in the first quarter of 2021, when the declining margin also caused disappointment in the market.

The group is forecasting growth for the year as a whole, with the aim of increasing sales by around 20 percent or more. 2.3 to 2.8 (2020: 2.2) percent of the proceeds should remain as adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

WHAT THE ANALYSTS SAY:

The majority of the ten experts recorded in the dpa-AFX analyzer are currently voting in favor of buying the papers. In addition to only a few industry experts with a neutral rating on the sidelines, only the analysts from Kepler Cheuvreux are in favor of a sale. The average target price is just under 210 euros and thus well above the current level – the range, however, ranges from 108 euros (Kepler Cheuvreux) to 270 euros (Bank of America).

For the quarterly report published at the beginning of May, experts mainly criticized the margin. The profitability leaves something to be desired, wrote Warburg analyst Michael Heider. Basically, however, he rated the start of the year for the online pharmacy as strong. The expert believes that the outlook for the year as a whole should also be achievable. Baader analyst Volker Bosse pointed out that the company had gained ground at the start of the year in non-prescription products.

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Analyst Gerhard Orgonas from the private bank Berenberg spoke of a strong quarter. In a weak market environment, the company achieved strong sales growth, he praised. He sees the structural growth drivers still intact. For example, he expects that sales of prescription drugs should increase by 70 percent after a kink this year because of the e-prescription in 2022. In addition, the margins should improve significantly again in the fourth quarter of this year when the group has completely moved to its new semi-automated warehouse.

Meanwhile, the experts are also concerned with the threat of competition from the US Internet giant Amazon. Jefferies analyst Alexander Thiel recently devoted himself to speculation that the US company might open stationary pharmacies in its home market. For a similar approach in Germany, however, he sees high hurdles, since pharmacies, among other things, are not allowed to be run as large chains with more than four branches and the owner is also not allowed to come from abroad, as he wrote.

WHAT DOES THE SHARE DO:

There was a time before and a time since the pandemic for investors in the shop pharmacy. Before the escalation of the corona crisis on the stock markets at the end of February 2020, the price moved in fairly manageable trajectories. In the months after the IPO in October 2016, calm was the order of the day: From around 30 euros at the beginning, it went down to the record low of 24 euros in December 2016, before the shares worked their way up again a little.

A little more momentum in the shares came in May 2017 when the 40 euro mark fell. Another boost lifted the share certificates to just under 65 euros at the end of 2017, but then the upward trend should slow down for a good two years.

The turnaround came shortly after the general market crash due to the corona pandemic in spring 2020. In the wake of the markets, it initially fell to an interim low of just under 37 euros in mid-March, but from this point on the papers climbed in steps of ten or even twenty for a month Month further up – except for a good 166 euros at the end of August.

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After a breather, the shares then made the jump to a record high of 249 euros in February of this year. But currently it seems as if the course is collapsing again just as quickly. The 160 euro mark was only recently torn, and the paper is currently trading at 153 euros.

In the meantime, the technical picture has clouded over at all important time levels: The shares are now trading below the 21, 50 and 200-day average lines, which describe the short, medium and long-term trends. The papers of the shop pharmacy have been listed in the MDax of medium-sized stocks since September 2020. With a market capitalization of almost 2.8 billion euros, they are among the lightweights in this stock market league.

Despite the recent losses, the paper is one of the big winners of the corona crisis on the financial markets. Since the end of 2019, the price has increased by more than 250 percent – more than the German standard values ​​in the Dax and MDax, only the shares of Hellofresh (291 percent) have increased. In the SDax, on the other hand, there are some titles that have even higher profits – such as Westwing (1394 percent), Global Fashion Group (435 percent), Flatexdegiro (324 percent), Verbio (273 percent) and Home24 (254 percent)

When the company went public around four and a half years ago, the share was issued at EUR 28. The market capitalization was just over 250 million euros. Since then, the company has increased its capital three times to fund acquisitions and business growth.

In addition to the price increase, this also contributed to the significant increase in the stock market value. One of the biggest beneficiaries of the stock market success story is the former CEO Michael Köhler, who co-founded the company and led it for 17 years. At the end of 2018 he surprisingly withdrew for personal reasons, but still holds 14.5 percent of the Shop Apotheke./tav/la/zb/mis

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