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 company’s stock surged to a new 52-week high of $74.49 on Jul 16, 2013, before closing at $74.12. Shares of this Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) stock have amassed a year-to-date return of roughly 31.2%. Hain Celestial currently trades at a forward P/E of 25.17x at a premium of 11.5% to the peer group average of 22.58x. Additionally, the long-term EPS growth rate stands healthy at 14.9%.
If we look at the company’s earnings surprise history for the last 10 quarters, Hain Celestial has topped estimates by an average of 4.6%. In the last concluded quarter, the company posted earnings of 72 cents a share that came in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate and surged 28.6% 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.
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. Management expects the acquisition to be accretive to the company’s earnings by 5 cents to 8 cents a share in fiscal 2014.
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.
Other stocks worth considering in the food-miscellaneous sector include, B&G Foods Inc. (BGS) and Flowers Foods, Inc. (FLO) both of which hold a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), and Campbell Soup Company (CPB) carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).
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