The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Kraft Foods Group, Mondelez International, Hain Celestial Group, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and United Natural Foods

Zacks

For Immediate Release
 
Chicago, IL – December 19, 2013 – Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include the Kraft Foods Group, Inc. (KRFT-Free Report), Mondelez International Inc. (MDLZ-Free Report), The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. (HAIN-Free Report), Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (GMCR-Free Report) and United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI-Free Report).
 
Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

Here are highlights from Wednesday’s Analyst Blog:

Kraft Announces $3B Share Buyback
 
The board of directors at Kraft Foods Group, Inc. (KRFT-Free Report) recently authorized a $3 billion share buyback program — the first since it separated from Mondelez International Inc. (MDLZ-Free Report) and became an independent company in October last year.

The share repurchase program has no expiration date. Also, the quarterly dividend of 52.5 cents per share will be paid on Jan 17, 2014, to shareholders of record as on Dec 27, 2013.

At the time of separation from Mondelez, Kraft’s management announced its aim to generate significant cash. The consumer food company is targeting to “put dollars in shareholders' pockets, not margins”. Free cash flow is expected to be at least 85% of the net income in the long term which will be used mainly to pay steady, incremental dividends targeted to grow consistently in the mid single-digit range. The company expects to end 2013 with free cash flow of $1.2 billion.

Though Kraft is focusing on building shareholders’ value through share buybacks and regular dividend payments, it has been struggling with its top line. Sales were significantly weak in the last reported quarter (third-quarter 2013). Several of the company’s product categories witnessed softness in the quarter due to consumption weakness and increased competitive activity.

In fact, Kraft missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate for both revenues and earnings in the third quarter. Though the new aggressive share buyback plan will boost earnings in the future quarters, we believe the top line will continue to struggle.

Kraft carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Overall, we are encouraged by Kraft’s aggressive cost reduction and efficiency-improvement initiatives which provide more cash to invest in innovation, brand building and marketing initiatives. However, despite Kraft’s cost-saving efforts consistently boosting earnings, it needs to show sustained improvement in the top line.

Other better-ranked stocks in the food industry include The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. (HAIN-Free Report), Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (GMCR-Free Report) and United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI-Free Report). All the three companies carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

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