I don't know whether former Washington Redskin Charles Mann ever actually endorsed Hormel Foods'
The company's generally upbeat figures were pretty much what you might expect from the food business today. Most of the growth in sales and operating profits is coming from the value-added refrigerated products, where producers like Hormel do some extra work in the labs and then charge higher prices than they can for the standard grocery fare. (The company's stock Spam and chili products, interestingly, are still doing well on the shelves.)
Hormel and its competitors -- such as Smithfield
Looking forward, Hormel is pointing investors toward earnings per share growth of 8% to 20% for the next fiscal year. Backed by what will likely be strong free cash flow -- barring an acquisition or other unforeseen event -- those are pretty solid numbers. Currently trading at about 20 times trailing 12-month EPS, however, Hormel looks fairly valued.
Nonetheless, this company certainly bears watching. It's not a particularly volatile stock, though it has managed to outperform the Standard and Poor's 500 over the last 10 years. It could still provide opportunities for patient investors, especially if it hits the higher end of its growth expectations in the coming years.
Remember when "Spam" just meant meat and Monty Python songs? Come chew the fat on the Hormel discussion board.
Dave Marino-Nachison can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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