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3 Key Things From Beyond Meat's Earnings Call That Investors Should Know

By Beth McKenna – May 24, 2020 at 11:30AM

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The plant-based meat substitute maker's CEO talks conquering China, encouraging consumer trials while the global meat supply chain is disrupted, and more.

Beyond Meat (BYND 3.10%) reported first quarter 2020 results earlier this month that delighted investors. 

The leading maker of plant-based meat substitutes grew revenue 141% year over year to $97.1 million and turned in earnings per share (EPS) of $0.03, up from a loss of $0.95 per share in the year-ago period. 

Shares soared 26% on the following day, which we can attribute to both revenue and earnings crushing Wall Street's consensus estimates. Analysts were expecting a loss per share of $0.06 on revenue of $87.3 million. 

In 2020, Beyond Meat stock is up 81% through Friday, May 22, while the S&P 500 (including dividends) is down 7.8%. Since its initial public offering (IPO) in May 2019 at $25, the stock has gained a whopping 447%.

Earnings releases tell only part of the story. Here are three key things management shared on the first quarter earnings call that you should know.

Two Beyond Burgers with cheese, onions, spinach, and a white sauce in buns sitting on a white cloth on a wood surface.

Image source: Beyond Meat.

The coronavirus pandemic's net effect on revenue was negative

From CEO Ethan Brown's remarks:

[W]e began the year with strong momentum across our enterprise, followed by a meaningful slowdown in our food-service business during the latter half of March as various regions around the world implemented stay-at-home orders. Although we did see a simultaneous boost in sales to retail customers, this was not enough to offset deterioration of demand in our food-service business.

Despite the pandemic-driven challenges to the food service business (which includes quick-serve -- or "fast-food" -- restaurants, as well as food service customers), its revenue rose 100% from the year-ago period. The retail segment's revenue increased 185% year over year. Total revenue was split 58% retail, 42% food service. 

Beyond Meat did a great job of handling the massive shift in demand from food service to retail that occurred during the end of the quarter. This shift has continued into the second quarter, which will be more negatively affected by the pandemic than the first quarter since only the last two weeks of the first quarter were affected.

That said, there's a potentially shiny silver (long-term) lining stemming from the global crisis.

The meat supply chain disruption presents an opportunity to win new customers

From Brown's remarks: 

As the pandemic began to interrupt the world economy, [our] offensive measures included ... developing value packs for instant retailers and offering aggressive pricing with a strategic opportunity to encourage consumer trials during this period of disruption in the animal protein market.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the world's meat supply chain, resulting in a meat shortage and higher prices. This scenario presents an ideal opportunity for Beyond Meat to entice consumers to try its products. And some of these folks are likely to become repeat customers, even after the meat supply situation improves.

The company's most aggressive discounting is planned for this summer.

Brown emphasized that Beyond Meat doesn't feel any competitive pressures, as evidenced "by the 38% [gross] margin we enjoyed this quarter." The aggressive pricing is simply a strategy to encourage consumers to try its products while the meat supply chain is out of whack. The discounting won't enable its products to reach price parity with comparable meat products, but should put them "in the same consideration set" as meat, Brown said.

The company is committed to establishing production capacity in Asia

From Brown's remarks:

We remain committed to our goal of establishing a production footprint in Asia before the end of 2020, pending further developments with the COVID-19 pandemic. The magnitude of the opportunity in Asia merits significant investment. And reflecting such recent disruptions in the region's protein supply due to African swine flu, we are proceeding with a sense of urgency appropriate for the challenge and opportunity alike.

Beyond Meat entered China on April 22 via a partnership with Starbucks (SBUX 1.66%), which launched three Beyond Beef menu items in its locations throughout Mainland China. Brown said on the call that the rollout was going "great," and that the company was getting some "great results on social [media] regarding consumer acceptance of the product."

In addition, Beyond Meat also recently inked a distribution agreement with a leading Chinese distributor, Sinodis, to distribute its products to retail and food service businesses in China.

Beth McKenna has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Starbucks. The Motley Fool recommends Beyond Meat, Inc. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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