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Ride This IPO's Wave to Profit

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It's time for an update on Dean Foods (NYSE: DF  ) and its recent spinoff, WhiteWave Foods (NYSE: WWAV  ) . Dean announced the spinoff in early August amid much fanfare -- in fact, the stock had gone up more than 50% between the announcement and the first part of the spinoff. Clearly, the market is excited, and so am I. Read on to see why I recently placed an outperform CAPScall on Dean Foods, and why I'm doing the same for WhiteWave.

Riding the wave to profit
The spinoff is occurring in two parts. WhiteWave had its IPO last Friday and is now organizationally a separate company, but Dean will continue to own about 86.7%  of the company for at least a six-month lockup period, after which Dean plans to distribute the rest of the shares to Dean shareholders as a tax-free distribution. On Friday, Dean's current CEO became CEO of WhiteWave, and its chief supply-chain officer and president of the Fresh Dairy Direct segment became the new CEO of Dean.

When a current CEO switches over to a new spinoff, that's a pretty big vote of confidence in the future of the spinoff versus the parent -- and there's good reason here. WhiteWave has been Dean's fastest-growing segment, with 55% net  income growth over the past five years. In 2011, WhiteWave provided about 16% of Dean's revenues, but 31% of its operating income. And unlike a lot of spinoff situations, Dean isn't using WhiteWave as a convenient place to dump its large debt burden.

To put it bluntly, the future of grocery retailing is organic. WhiteWave's Horizon Organic and Silk brands make it the largest supplier of organic and alternative milks. Silk alone has 75% of the soy milk market and is expanding into almond milk with much success. The comparison between WhiteWave's sales growth and Dean's as a whole is similar to that of Whole Foods (Nasdaq: WFM  ) , a proxy for organic grocery retailing in general, and the more conventional Safeway (NYSE: SWY  ) :


2007 Revenues

2011 Revenues

% Change

WhiteWave Foods




Dean Foods




Whole Foods








WhiteWave has only given pro forma earnings per share for 2011, but it has given net income per share, which is slightly different. In any case, at Friday's closing share price of $16.75, the company is selling for only 27 times  net income, a pretty cheap price for such a fast-growing company. Compare that with Whole Foods at 40 times earnings and Annie's (NYSE: BNNY  ) at 292 times earnings.

But what about Dean?
As mentioned, Dean currently still owns about 86.7% of WhiteWave. Because a value can now be attached to WhiteWave, it's possible to figure out that Dean's WhiteWave holdings account for about 42% of Dean's enterprise value. If you take that out -- which you'll have to in a few months anyway -- and also take out the free cash flow provided by WhiteWave, you'll arrive at an enterprise-value-to-free-cash-flow ratio of only about 15. Dean is also looking to sell its Morningstar unit for $1 billion to $1.5 billion , and while it's hard to say exactly how much free cash flow the unit provides, a $1 billion cash infusion would certainly be welcome.

Ultimately, that would whittle Dean down to just one of its operating segments -- Fresh Dairy Direct, its biggest and most volatile segment. This segment has taken it on the chin over the past few years, with operating income falling nearly 50%  from 2009 to 2011, despite a 13.5% rise in sales. As with many farm companies, this situation is largely outside Dean's control. Milk production is mostly dependent on corn for cattle feed, and corn prices have recently gone so high that some farmers are literally feeding their cattle discarded candy .

On the upside, however, the recent management shakeup will bring Fresh Dairy into focus. Despite the segment's difficulties, it still manages to outperform competitors in the milk industry , and having the president of the segment move up to CEO of the company will keep expertise in place.

The Foolish bottom line
WhiteWave is a clear buy for me. With its dominance of both organic milk and alternatives such as soy and almond milk, it stands to take advantage of growing trends toward organic food and health food in general. Despite its strong position and fast growth, WhiteWave is cheap compared with competitors. As for its parent, Dean's future is less certain, but it is in good hands and is taking steps to generate value. Shareholders of both companies are likely to be rewarded over time.

WhiteWave is just one company benefiting from the long-term growth in organic groceries, and Whole Foods may be at the center of it all. In this brand-new premium report on the company, we walk through the key must-know items for every Whole Foods investor, including the main opportunities and threats facing the company. We're also providing a full year of regular analyst updates to go with it, so make sure to claim your copy today by clicking here.

Jacob Roche owns shares of Dean Foods. The Motley Fool owns shares of Dean Foods and Whole Foods Market. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Whole Foods Market. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (4) | Recommend This Article (4)

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On October 29, 2012, at 10:27 AM, FutureMonkey wrote:

    Any concerns about Prop 37 in California which would require GMO label? If it passes and if some of WhiteWaves Products are involved, could that harm the "health" halo on the line in a very large marketplace. Does WWAV have a position on Prop 37?


  • Report this Comment On October 29, 2012, at 11:52 AM, TMFTheDoctor wrote:

    I haven't been following the polling on 37 so I'm not sure what the odds are of it passing. I can say that both WWAV's Horizon Organic milk line and its Silk products are made without GMOs, so it's not in much danger of losing its status. I don't know if WWAV has a position, but I do know that Whole Foods has a yes on 37 position.

  • Report this Comment On October 31, 2012, at 6:42 PM, FutureMonkey wrote:

    Thanks for the reply.

    Recent poll indicates Prop 37 unlikely to pass, so the question is moot. I'd be surprised if SILK didn't have GMO soy in it. Almond probably doesn't. I'd take a CAP risk on WWAV. I need more information on the enterprise value, debt, cash flow, fixed costs, etc before getting in real world position.

  • Report this Comment On October 31, 2012, at 9:25 PM, TMFTheDoctor wrote:

    > I'd be surprised if SILK didn't have GMO soy in it.

    "All Silk milk products are Non-GMO Project verified."

    > I need more information on the enterprise value, debt, cash flow, fixed costs, etc before getting in real world position.

    Definitely do your homework before buying! Hopefully the article will give you some things to think about, but as to the concrete numbers, you can get WhiteWave's S-1 filing (with all the cash flow etc numbers in it) by searching the SEC's EDGAR database by the company name. They don't have the WWAV ticker entered into the system yet it seems.

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