Beyond Meat's (BYND -0.14%) stock price climbed on Monday after Citigroup analyst Wendy Nicholson lifted her rating on the meat alternatives company from sell to neutral and boosted her price forecast. As of 2:55 p.m. EDT, Beyond Meat's shares were up more than 4%.
Nicholson's upgrade comes after a 10% decline in Beyond Meat's stock price following her sell call in July. Yet even as investors have become more concerned about intensifying competition from the likes of Impossible Foods and large packaged food companies, Nicholson's research shows that Beyond Meat's sales have continued to expand at rates above 60% in key retail channels. Moreover, she believes Beyond Meat's new e-commerce site can be a significant growth driver for the company. Nicholson, in turn, raised her price forecast for Beyond Meat's stock from $123 to $141.
Still, Nicholson remains uneasy about Beyond Meat's profit margins, as well as its stock's rich valuation. "While we are less negative today on BYND than we were at the time of our launch of coverage, we are still not ready to recommend the shares with a buy rating," she said in a research note to investors.
When bears become less bearish, it's usually a good sign that a stock could be about to head higher. And if Beyond Meat can continue to grow at a brisk pace despite rising competition, it's a signal that skeptics may be underestimating the power of its brand. It can also be a sign that the market for plant-based food is large enough to support multiple winners -- of which Beyond Meat could be the biggest.