A leader in natural food and personal care products categories with an extensive portfolio of well-known brands and strong fundamentals, The Hain Celestial Group Inc. (HAIN) offers a healthy investment opportunity for investors. The stock is poised to surge as the economy gradually revives and the appetite for organic food increases.
An Attractive Investment Prospect
Hain Celestial remains a healthy option for investors. Barring a few hiccups, the shares have been portraying an upward trend since February end and is gradually inching closer to its 52-week high of $85.48. Considering the last traded price of $81.84 on Aug 23, the stock has amassed a year-to-date return of roughly 45%. The long-term EPS growth rate stands healthy at 13.6%.
Moreover, the company’s last traded price was above the 50 and 200-day moving averages, which stand at $73.45 and $65.16, respectively. In fact, the stock has been consistently trading above its 200-day moving average since Mar 19, 2013, but has remained above the 50-day moving average since Jul 1, 2013.
If we look at the company’s earnings surprise history for the last 13 quarters, Hain Celestial has topped estimates by an average of 4.6%. In the last concluded quarter, the company posted earnings of 65 cents a share that comfortably surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 62 cents and surged 38.3% year over year.
Management cited that strong top-line growth, integration of acquired businesses, focus on high margin carrying brands, and elimination of underperforming private label brands facilitated the bottom-line growth.
Management now anticipates sales in the range of $2,025 million to $2,050 million in fiscal 2014, reflecting a year-over-year increase of 17%. Earnings are projected in the range of $2.95 to $3.05 per share, up 16% to 20% year over year.
Acquisitions Driving Growth
Acquisitions have played a vital part in Hain Celestial’s strategy of building market share. These acquisitions have not only widened the company’s geographical presence, but have also provided opportunities to cross-sell products in the U.S., Canadian, and European markets.
The company recently acquired leading packaged grocery brands Hartley's, Gale's, Robertson's, Frank Cooper's and Sun-Pat from Premier Foods plc. The company also acquired Ella's Kitchen Group Limited that offers organic baby food products under approximately 80 brands and provides them in easy to carry pouches.
Going forward, we believe that the company will be able to mitigate the cost pressures through increased productivity and efficient pricing. Moreover, Hain Celestial has undertaken a number of initiatives to improve its performance and positioned itself on the growth trajectory. The company’s Stock Keeping Unit (“SKU”) rationalization program has helped eliminate SKUs, which had lower sales volume or weak margins.
However, the company’s customers remain sensitive to macroeconomic factors including interest rate hikes, increase in fuel and energy costs, credit availability, unemployment levels, and high household debt levels, which may negatively impact their disposable income, triggering a shift in focus from higher priced organic products to cheaper private label brands.
Currently, Hain Celestial carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Other stocks worth considering in the food-miscellaneous sector include, Pinnacle Foods Inc. (PF) holding a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), and Kraft Foods Group, Inc. (KRFT) and Dole Food Company Inc. (DOLE) both carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).
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