Also from Mark Heckman...
February 14, 2013
Harris Teeter, the upscale grocery chain headquartered in North Carolina, has confirmed that it has hired J.P. Morgan to assist it as it pursues strategic alternatives. What is your evaluation of Harris Teeter as it is currently configured? What potential acquirer would be the best match? [more...]
Given the relatively solid status of Harris Teeter I would be surprised if an equity player would find the multiples attractive enough to purchase the chain, knowing there would be little opportunity for a sizable profit in a few years when they re-sell.
As for other chains making the acquisition, intuitively, Publix makes the most sense, in that they would likely have the cash to make the deal and it would fit into their current geographic coverage logistically. Kroger is always a potential player, but they have been fairly quiet on the acquisition front of late. Most others are either too small, or in financial straits themselves, and not in position to play.
In any event, my hope is that they are purchased by a chain or enterprise that has similar standards and wants to run great stores. Losing another really good grocery chain to the vagaries of capital investment, in which case (as David Livingston describes), would not be good for the Harris Teeter or their shoppers!