What: Shares of General Mills, Inc. (NYSE:GIS) have crushed the market in 2016, climbing 14%, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence, as investors look for safe investments and management continues to squeeze more money out of the bottom line.
So what: What's strange this year is that General Mills' business isn't performing all that well. Sales fell 8% in the first quarter, including 4% on a constant-currency basis. But net income increased 5.4% to $361.7 million in the quarter on the back of a 160-basis-point increase in gross margins.
What hasn't changed about General Mills is that it's a relatively safe food stock at a time when investors are having a hard time finding safety. And that, more than anything, is why shares are climbing in 2016.
Now what: If you look at General Mills' stock today, there's really not a lot for investors to like. Sales are falling, organic growth is almost impossible for most of its products, and acquisitions are costing the company money that could be given to shareholders. Still, shares trade for 27 times trailing earnings, which is an extreme multiple for even the safest stock.
There just doesn't seem to be any value for investors given the stock's high earnings multiple and grocery customers moving toward more local, organic options and away from large conglomerates. I don't see this outperformance continuing as long as revenue is trending lower.