Thursday Losers: Hain Lacks Organic Growth

David Sterman's picture

Thursday, May 6, 2010 - 11:17am

by David Sterman

In a bid to keep growing, some companies resort to a steady stream of acquisitions. But appearances can be quite deceptive, as these deals often come with newly-issued shares and/or rising debt, both of which can impede per-share profits from growing. This “inorganic growth” strategy has been the hallmark of Hain Celestial (Nasdaq: HAIN), which, ironically, is a leading purveyor of organic food and beverages. Every year, Hain makes a few deals and looks like a growth company, until you see that bottom-line results are often disappointing.

They're at it again. Hain released fiscal third-quarter results Wednesday evening that trailed sales and profit forecasts. Indeed, year-over-year sales fell -16% on an apples-to-apples basis, and are likely to stay negative in coming quarters, despite the inclusion of recent acquisitions. Shares are off more than -13% in Thursday trading.

The negative sales trends come at a time when organic foods have been in vogue. But organic foods cost more, and many cash-strapped consumers have been switching back to foods that don’t carry the organic label. Analysts currently expect sales to rebound around +5% in this fiscal year that begins in July, though that forecast anticipates continued tuck-in acquisitions. They see profits rebounding a more robust +15% next year, but that forecast looks increasingly aggressive, as Hain’s acquisitions no longer seem to boost profits when a higher share count is factored in.

In coming sessions, shares should come under further pressure as analysts’ estimates ratchet lower, and growth-oriented fund managers move on to stocks that possess real "organic" growth.

Company Name (Ticker) Intra-Day Price Market Cap 52-Week High 52-Week Low 2010* P/E 2011* P/E
Hain Celestial (Nasdaq: HAIN) $18.12 $740M $21.08 $14.45 16.9 14.7
JDS Uniphase (Nasdaq: JDSU) $11.39 $2.4B $13.95 $4.44 31.6 21.5
Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE: ANF) $41.32 $3.6B $51.12 $22.70 22.3 15.8
Liz Claiborne (NYSE: LIZ) $7.03 $660M $9.72 $2.40 Negative 22.0
*Based on consenus estimates prior to recent earnings release

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JDS Uniphase (Nasdaq: JDSU) was the ultimate poster child for the dot.com implosion ten years ago. Shares briefly surpassed $1,000 in the Nasdaq meltup, but eventually made their way down to $2. More recently, shares have started to perk up again, making it look like JDSU is a Comeback Kid. But after the company posted weak fiscal third-quarter results on Wednesday evening, shares are off around -15% today.

This time around, shares look to have suffered a much more temporary setback. Although fiscal third-quarter sales were a bit light, the company’s salesmen were busy inking new deals, which should enable JDS Uniphase to post sharply higher results in the current quarter. It’s not often that you see a stock slide while management issues sales guidance that is more than +10% above consensus forecasts, and represents a +20% sequential improvement.

So why are investors dumping the stock? In large part, it’s a function of heightened expectations. Investors recently bid up the stock in hopes of a blow-out quarter. The “whisper number” had JDS Uniphase bagging sales of around $360 million, well above the published forecasts of around $340 million. (Actual sales came in even lower at $332 million).

Despite the weak results, the robust forward outlook from management should lead analysts’ to raise their profit forecasts for the current quarter by a few cents. And fiscal (June) 2011 profits now look set to be about 20% higher than the current $0.53 a share forecast, based on yet-to-be-revised assumptions for gross margins and operating expenses. Today’s sell-off looks overdone, and as investors digest an increasingly robust outlook, shares should move their way back to the 52-week high of $14, which is some 20% above current levels.

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A host of retailers are taking it on the chin after tepid sales reports. Same-store sales at Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE: ANF) fell -7%, pushing its shares down by a similar percentage. Retailer Liz Claiborne (NYSE: LIZ) stands out as the sector’s top laggard, dropping more than -10% on weak results. Most retailers begin to report quarterly results next week, and after the robust rebound the sector has posted over the last year, less-than-stellar results - or an uninspiring forecast - could lead to profit-taking.

David Sterman does not personally hold positions in any securities mentioned in this article.
StreetAuthority LLC does not hold positions in any securities mentioned in this article.