As an occasional organic-food purchaser, I can appreciate Hain Celestial
The company reported fourth-quarter and fiscal-year earnings Tuesday. Fourth-quarter revenues rose 29% year over year to $195 million, and earnings per share climbed 15%, from an adjusted $0.20 per share to $0.24 per diluted share. The company remarked on the continued strong growth of the organic-food market and said it was able to garner operating and distributing efficiencies by way of solid execution. It raised revenue estimates for 2007 from $880 million to $900 million, nicely above the $845 million that analysts were expecting.
What impresses me about the organic-food market is that it makes up only about 2% of the U.S. food market as a whole, and demand is growing quickly in the U.S., at a rate of about 15%-20% a year. Larger grocery chains such as Wal-Mart
In all, while Hain Celestial is cheaper than Whole Foods with a trailing P/E of 33, it still seems a rich price to pay for a company expected to grow revenues by about 20% next year. I am not worried about a consumer slowdown affecting demand, since organic consumers tend to buy what they do not because of price but because the food is healthier, tastes better, and is safer to eat. What does bother me is that the barriers to entry for an organic-food manufacturer and distributor are fairly low, as indicated by Hain's single-digit operating margins and the relative lack of brand-name recognition for products among organic consumers. With that in mind, this Fool is going to pass on Hain for now.
More fare for Foolish foodies:
- United Natural Foods' Unsavory Valuation
- Taking a Bite of Whole Foods
- Dueling Fools: Whole Foods Markets