Beyond Meat's (NASDAQ:BYND) stock is on a tear. Shares of the plant-based meat alternatives producer are up a sizzling 82% over the past month -- and one analyst firm expects the stock to rise another 36% in the months ahead.
Argus Research boosted its target price on Beyond Meat stock to $180 per share on Tuesday, up from its previous forecast of $130. Argus analysts say Beyond Meat will benefit from rising demand for meat substitutes among health- and eco-conscious consumers.
"We view Beyond Meat as the leading company in the plant-based protein space, with a widely recognized brand and prospects for continued market share growth," Argus wrote in a note to investors. "We expect demand for plant-based alternatives to meat to continue to grow, driven not only by consumer preferences for healthier food, but also by environmental concerns, especially among younger consumers."
Argus initiated coverage on Beyond Meat in March. Its analysts placed a buy rating and a $130 target price on the stock at the time, back when it was trading below $100.
That call proved prescient. Today, shares are fetching $131.
After Argus' initial call, Beyond Meat went on to deliver strong first-quarter results on May 5, with revenue surging 141% year over year to $97.1 million. The gains came even as thousands of restaurants were forced to close during the coronavirus pandemic. Beyond Meat was able to offset those lost sales by rapidly expanding its grocery business.
Better still, Beyond Meat is becoming more profitable as it scales its operations. Gross margin improved to 38.8% in the first quarter, up from 26.8% in the prior-year period. That helped gross profit soar 250%, to $37.7 million.
"I am proud of our first-quarter financial results, which exceeded our expectations despite an increasingly challenging operating environment due to the COVID-19 health crisis," Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown said in the company's earnings release.
Beyond Meat's sales could receive a boost as restaurants begin to reopen. Several states are easing stay-at-home restrictions that were put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Moreover, Beyond Meat's international sales should receive a caffeinated jolt from the deal it reached with Starbucks in April. The coffee titan is rolling out Beyond Meat's products in more than 4,000 China stores.
Some analysts believe a deal with McDonald's could also be in Beyond Meat's future. The restaurant giant is testing Beyond's plant-based foods, and it could choose to roll out the products to more of its nearly 40,000 restaurants worldwide. Such a deal would be likely to send Beyond Meat's stock sharply higher.
In addition, meat alternatives could help to fill the gaps in the nation's food supply. The meat industry is facing severe disruptions in its supply chain because of outbreaks of COVID-19 in processing plants and other facilities. Should meat shortages continue, plant-based food, such as those produced by Beyond Meat, could be part of the solution.
So, could Beyond Meat stock reach $180 per share? It's certainly possible. And judging by the stock's rapid ascent in recent weeks, it could happen faster than many investors currently expect.