The dizzying rise of the plant-based meat trend continued Thursday, with ingredients giant Archer Daniels Co. the latest big food player to jump on the bandwagon.
Chicago-based Archer Daniels
said plant-based meat is one market it is eyeing as it works to offset “challenging external conditions,” that include the trade tensions between the U.S. and China that have disrupted food and agricultural trade flows, as well as the current outbreak of African swine fever in China.
“Fast-growing consumer trends such as plant-based proteins are creating long-term growth opportunities for our comprehensive portfolio of food and beverage solutions,” the company said in its second-quarter earnings release.
The alternative meat market has exploded into a major theme for investors and traditional food companies, ever since the enormous success of the initial public offering of Beyond Meat Inc.
in May. Beyond Meat shares are trading at more than six times their IPO price as the company has signed up new distributors and restaurant clients.
Barclays estimates the market for plant-based or lab-made meat could climb to $140 billion in the next 10 years and food companies are moving fast to avoid being left behind.
Other food companies that have shown an interest in the sector include Tyson Foods Inc.
Kraft Heinz Co.
Conagra Brands Inc
and Nestlé SA
and Kerry Group PLC
among others. These companies have either invested in plant-based meat startups or have developed their own.
In the restaurant sector, Burger King parent Restaurant Brands International Inc.
has launched tests of Beyond Meat breakfast sausage at Tim Hortons and of Impossible Burgers at Burger King. Impossible Meat, the private company behind the Impossible Burger, was founded in 2011 and is backed by Microsoft
founder Bill Gates, Khosla Ventures and Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, among others. The meatless burger was developed at Rutgers’ Food Innovation Center.
In case you missed it: Beyond Meat goes public with a bang: 5 things to know about the plant-based meat maker
Burger King earlier announced plans to take the Impossible Whopper nationwide starting Aug. 8 through Sept. 1.
Beyond Meat shares were down 9% Thursday, after the company priced a secondary offering of its shares at $160, an 18.6% discount to the closing price of the stock Wednesday, but more than six times the company’s IPO price of $25.
The company will sell at least 3.25 million shares in the follow-on to raise $520 million, but most of that will go to the early investors, executives and employees who are participating in the deal.
For more on this, read: Beyond Meat sales nearly quadruple, stock plunges after secondary offering announced
Beyond Meat reported second-quarter earnings earlier this week showing sales almost quadrupling from a year ago, but it is not yet profitable, posting a loss of $9.4 million, wider than the $7.4 million loss posted a year ago.
Jefferies analysts led by Kevin Grundy said the numbers showed positive trends in profit metrics, including gross margins and EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization).
“Strong topline momentum (measured channel data, new partnerships), positive trends in profit metrics (benefiting from product mix and volume leverage), and bullish commentary on profitability in 3Q bode well for continued delivery, which should support the stock, in our view,” Grundy wrote. Jefferies rates the stock as hold but raised its stock price target to $190 from $105.
Archer Daniels earnings fell short of estimates, as it posted net income of $235 million, or 42 cents a share, down from $566 million, or $1 a share, a year ago. Adjusted EPS was 60 cents a share, missing the FactSet consensus of 61 cents a share.
Revenue fell to $16.297 billion from $17.068 billion a year ago, also missing the FactSet consensus of $16.822 billion. The company said unfavorable weather conditions had an impact of about $65 million to operating profit.
“We took aggressive action in the face of challenging external conditions, and we are confident that our work over the first half of the year will help deliver a stronger back half,” said CEO Luciano said.
Shares were up 1.9% and have gained 2% in 2019, while the S&P 500 has gained 20% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained 16%.