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Why I Think Wm. Morrison Supermarkets plc Has Potential

As all Fools know, forecasts are often wrong.

Of course, I’m not only referring to the investment world: predictions in any walk of life can only ever be used as a guide and never looked upon with any degree of certainty.

Obvious point, I know. But in the investment world, a degree of weight seems to be given to certain forecasts surrounding economic growth. Indeed, if growth forecasts are changed upwards or downwards, it seems to have at least some impact on investors’ mindset — in the short run at least.

So, I was encouraged to read recently that the British Chamber of Commerce has increased its growth forecasts for the UK economy. It had previously predicted that the economy would grow by 0.9% this year and 1.9% in 2014. However, it has no increased these figures to 1.3% and 2.2% respectively.

Indeed, other surveys of confidence in the UK seem to be advancing too. The GfK Consumer Confidence Barometer, based on a survey of around 2,000 people, increased to its highest level since 2009.

Clearly, the UK is becoming more optimistic than in previous years, although the scale of pessimism since 2009 means this is arguably not that great an achievement.

However, as a private investor I’m always looking to profit from things such as improved sentiment, and one stock that I feel could benefit is Morrisons (LSE: MRW) (NASDAQOTH: MRWSY.US).

As you are no doubt aware, trading conditions have been highly challenging in recent years, with many shoppers seemingly deserting Morrisons in favour of cheaper alternatives, such as Aldi and Lidl.

However, I think that if the UK does continue to experience an upturn, these ‘deserters’ could come back to Morrisons; attracted by its fresh offering, vertical integration and the excellent value (rather than just cheapness) that it offers.

Certainly, they could also be attracted to rival supermarkets such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s, but Morrisons is arguably the supermarket that is ‘one up’ from the likes of Aldi and Lidl.

In other words, consumers moving up the ‘supermarket ladder’ seeking better quality products will arguably reach Morrisons first, then Tesco, then Sainsbury’s and finally Waitrose. So, Morrisons could be the first to gain.

Furthermore, shares offer an attractive yield of 4%, with dividends per share having been increased in each of the last four years. For income-seeking investors like me, such a yield (and dividend growth) is very welcome in the current economic climate.

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> Peter owns shares in Morrisons. The Motley Fool owns shares in Tesco and has recommended shares in Morrisons.