Today I’m making Tyson Foods (TSN) the fifth and final value pick in my Special Report 5 Value Stocks for a Market at an All-time High.That Special Report ran on my subscription JubakAM.com site. And I’m adding the shares to my long-term 50 Stocks Portfolio.
It’s clear that shares of Tyson Foods are cheap. The stock trades at 14.57 times trailing 12-month earnings per share and at a forward PE of just 12.11, according to Morningstar or 13.85, according to Yahoo Finance. The stock sports a price to sales rate well below one at 0.74. The price to sales ratio for the stocks in the Standard & Poor’s 500 is 3.35.
And it’s clear why shares of Tyson Foods should be cheap. There’s the U.S.-China trade war that has disrupted demand of U.S. farm products such as the chicken and pork that Tyson’s sells. There’s the massive flooding in the Midwest that disrupted planting season and that has raised fears of a spike later this year in feed prices. And, finally, there’s the recently disclosed grand jury investigation into price fixing by chicken processors that include Tyson, Pilgrim’s Price and Sanderson Farms. The grand jury investigation adds to pile of civil lawsuits brought by consumers, distributors, grocery chains, and food processors including Kraft Heinz and Conagra.
What’s not so clear is why Tyson Foods should be so cheap–that is why the share price will be higher in the future than it is now. Tyson’s chart isn’t exactly a huge vote of confidence. In May the stock climbed to $82.49 and it looked like Tyson shares were going to take out the high they set back on December 4, 2017 at $83.62. But they’ve been in retreat since then and there’s certainly a case to be made that Tyson failed to put in a higher high and is now headed into retreat for a while.
So what is the case for this stock to move higher from here?
First, Tyson with its protein portfolio–20% of income comes from beef, 35% from chicken, and 15% from pork–will show a solid recovery whenever the trade war with China is settled. China and the rest of the world show a growing demand for protein and Tyson is a key factor in meeting that demand.
Second, Tyson is, recent data, argue successfully pursing a strategy to add prepared foods with their higher profit margins to its commodity protein business. In 2014 the company acquired Hillshire Brands, in 2017 it acquired AdvancePierre, a producer of ready to eat sandwiches and snacks, and in November 2018 it acquired Keystone Foods, a global distributor to quick service restaurant chains with about a third of its sales in Asia. Operating margins are about 2%-3% in beef and 8% for chicken and pork. Operating margins in the prepared foods segment are 10%-12%.
Third, Tyson is moving into the very hot plant protein as beef market. Just before the Beyond Meat (BYND) IPO in April, Tyson’s venture capital arm sold its 6.2% stake in the producer of the pea-protein Beyond Burger that tastes and looks like a beef burger after cooking, (I’ve tried it and the product by and large delivers on that claim.) Given that Beyond Meat saw its first public trade act $46 a share on April 29 and closed today at $272.59, you might think this was a gigantic mistake by Tyson. I’m sure nobody at the company is especially thrilled at having given up the recent gains, but the sale of the Beyond Meat position was a necessity.On June 13 Tyson Foods announced that it would enter the plant-based mean alternatives market under the Raised & Rooted brand. The first product will be plant-based alternative “chicken nuggets” this summer with a plant-based alternative burger to follow in the fall. The market for meat alternatives will hit $22.9 billion globally by 2023, projects Euromonitor International. That’s small potatoes compared to traditional animal agriculture has a global worth of $1.4 trillion. But it’s the hot market of the moment because of its growth potential and everyone wants a piece of it. Tyson Foods. Nestlé will launch a pea-protein-based burger this fall in the United States under Sweet Earth brand. (Scorecards here. Can’t tell your burger formula’s without a scorecard. Beyond Meat uses pea protein as Nestle’s product will. Major competitor Impossible Foods uses a soy-based protein.) Another meat giants Cargill has invested in cell-cultured-meat company Memphis Meats, which is close to a product launch.
Tyson reports quarterly earnings next on August 5.
I don’t expect big things from Tyson until the trade war with China gets settled–and I don’t anticipate that happening until late 2020. But I’d like to get in now while the stock is cheap.
I’ll be adding these shares to my long-term 50 Stocks Portfolio tomorrow July 17.