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Beyond Meat gives strong guidance, shares rise

Heidi Chung
Reporter

Beyond Meat (BYND) shares soared 28% Friday morning, hitting all-time highs, after reporting its first quarterly earnings release as a public company.

The alternative-meat company posted revenue of $40.2 million exceeding analysts estimates of $38.92 million during the first quarter. Beyond Meat reported a net loss of $6.6 million, compared to a net loss of $5.7 million last year. Pro forma, or excluding items, the company reported a loss of 14 cents per share.

For the full year, Beyond expects revenue above $210 million. Previous estimates were for $205 million. The El Segundo, California-based company revealed that it discontinued its frozen chicken strip products during the first quarter causing a 5% decline in the frozen product revenue. According to the company, it will continue to shift its focus to its fresh product items.

“We are very pleased with our successful IPO during the month of May and our strong first quarter financial results that we believe demonstrate mainstream consumers’ desire for plant-based meat products in the United States and internationally,” CEO Ethan Brown said in a statement. “Our team continued to scale our business in both retail and foodservice as we benefited from broad-based growth in the first quarter. Looking ahead, we believe we are in the early stages of achieving the growth that Beyond Meat is capable of as we remain focused on efforts to increase brand awareness, expand our distribution channels, launch additional innovative products, and invest in our infrastructure and capacity to be able to serve a robust global market for plant-based meats.”

The hype surrounding the alternative-meat space has been on fire, drawing the attention of investors and Wall Street alike. Shares of Beyond Meat have skyrocketed since its IPO. After pricing at $25, the stock has rallied more than 400% in one month, and many are expecting it to fall back to Earth.

Like its recent IPO peers Uber (UBER) and Lyft (LYFT), Beyond Meat is not a profitable company.

Yahoo Finance/David Foster

Jefferies analyst Kevin Grundy currently thinks Beyond Meat is the best bet in the Staples space. “While Beyond's 1Q was relatively in line, the [company’s] upwardly revised FY20 sales outlook, broad-based momentum, and bullish commentary on ability to handle a potential MCD win should continue to drive the stock higher. BYND remains one of the best stories in staples, but w/competitive environment likely to intensify and shares trading at lofty ~15.5x FY21 sales, we'd wait for a pullback - Hold, PT to $105,” he wrote in a note Friday.

However, Beyond Meat faces challenges ahead as competition stiffens. Earlier this week, consumer giant Nestle announced that it would also be launching a plant-based burger in the U.S. called the Awesome Burger. Shares of Beyond Meat tanked 7% on the announcement.

When asked on the earnings conference call about competition, Brown said, “first and foremost, it’s a very large market. So in some sense, competitors coming in validates the direction that we’re going ... I am maniacally focused on driving this business forward with innovation.”

While Goldman Sachs believes that Beyond Meat is a key early player in the alternative-meat industry that has strong growth potential, analyst Adam Samuelson reiterated his Neutral rating but raised his 12-month price target from $67 to $76. His price target represents a nearly 40% drop from Thursday’s closing price. “Beyond’s results and outlook revealed strong underlying business momentum across retail and foodservice channels and healthy gross margin leverage,” Samuelson wrote in a note to clients Friday. “With continued traction internationally (Canada and Europe retail most notably) and new product introductions (including the burger 2.0 iteration in US retail this summer), we see ample scope for sustained growth over the balance of the year and further estimate revision risk.”