Posting 13.5% share gains during the first seven months of the year, Hormel Foods (HRL -0.22%) is one of a cadre of consumer staples stocks riding the COVID-19 wave to increased profits and performance. While the 31% of its sales derived from foodservice took a hit from the prolonged restaurant shutdown, Hormel's highly diversified product range allowed it to quickly switch emphasis to growth sectors, such as staple foods.
The famous canned meat brand, Spam, made a comeback after years of decline, with U.S. canned meat demand skyrocketing 70% through April, May, and June. Hormel's grocery segment saw double-digit sales increases during the period. Furthermore, the company frequently kept coronavirus infection rates below 3% at its facilities.
Hormel's third fiscal quarter (Q3) 2020 earnings report confirmed its pandemic profitability. Grocery, including canned meat and stew, continued to lead with a 36% gain in revenue, while organic net sales saw a 2% uptick and operating free cash flow witnessed a positive leap of 72%.
Despite its strengths, Hormel has a relatively poor reputation among analysts. According to data collected by Seeking Alpha, only one out of 13 Wall Street analysts is bullish on the company, with nine neutral, two bearish, and one "very bearish." However, Hormel appears to be a solid company and, most importantly, a Dividend King, with 54 consecutive years of dividend growth.
While COVID-19 temporarily buttressed Hormel's bottom line, its steadily growing dividend is the linchpin of its long-term success, driving dependable long-term growth in its share value. Fools interested in investing in Hormel should view the popular bearish sentiment as a positive, providing periodic dips in share price that make it possible to more affordably add Hormel stock to their portfolio.