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Albertsons Buys Plated, Blue Apron Shares Gain

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It was another rough day for Blue Apron (APRN - Free Report) shares, as the embattled meal kit delivery company lost nearly 5.3% in regular trading hours. However, the stock is on the rebound in after-hours trading on the back of the news that a rival meal kit company has been acquired.

Albertsons Companies, the nation’s second-largest grocery chain, announced that it is buying Plated, a meal kit delivery service launched in 2012. According to a company press release, Plated will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Albertsons, and the deal is expected to close later this month.

“Today's consumer is looking for a variety of personalized shopping alternatives, and this transaction is the latest example of Albertsons Cos. meeting our customers wherever and however they like to shop,” said Albertsons CEO Bob Miller.

While the announcement did not include a price tag for the acquisition, Albertsons did reveal some of its initial plans for Plated. For example, the company said that Plated will benefit from the scale that its roughly 2,300 stores offer. Albertsons also said that it will begin to offer Plated meal kits at many stores and across its digital channels.

Plated was founded just five years ago by Josh Hix and Nick Taranto. The company says that it leverages data and technology to “disrupt the traditional food supply chain and make it easy for people to cook delicious meals at home.” On top of its tech focus, Plated’s culinary team is led by Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef Elana Karp.

“As meal kits continue to gain traction in the marketplace, we believe the winning formula combines choice, flexibility, culinary expertise, and the ability for customers to buy across channels--all of which we are now singularly positioned to deliver in collaboration with Albertsons Cos.,” Hix added.

Shares of Plated competitor Blue Apron surged more than 3.4% in after-hours trading following the announcement. Blue Apron has struggled to generate any momentum since its IPO earlier this year, and the stock has steadily slumped from its $10 per share debut price to the $5.22 it closed at on Wednesday.

However, it looks like Albertsons’ acquisition of Plated could be a catalyst for the stock, as investors will likely speculate that Blue Apron is next on the list of meal kit takeover targets.

With Amazon’s (AMZN - Free Report) recent purchase of Whole Foods threatening to shake-up the entire grocery business, further industry consolidation should come as no surprise. And given that Amazon will likely use Whole Foods’ prime real estate to build out its fresh delivery options, it seems like a smart move for traditional grocers to target meal kit delivery companies.

While we’ll have to wait and see whether Blue Apron emerges as a potential takeover candidate, a merger does feel like it would benefit the company. So far, investors have been worried about Blue Apron’s scalability and massive marketing costs, but with a larger brand name behind it, those concerns should be somewhat satisfied.

Want more stock market analysis from this author? Make sure to follow @Ryan_McQueeney on Twitter!

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