Investors are always looking for appetizing new investment ideas. However, when it comes to investing in sugar through equity markets, investors are left with few choices to satisfy their sweet tooth. Imperial Sugar (Nasdaq: IPSU) is one of these options.

Imperial Sugar, based in Sugar Land, Texas, refines and sells sugar to beverage companies such as the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group (NYSE: DPS) and even to oil refiner Valero (NYSE: VLO) for use in proprietary drinks at its gas stations. Although Imperial Sugar has numerous competitors in the United States, nearly all of its comparable domestic competitors are privately held companies not listed on stock exchanges. While foreign sugar producers do account for a portion of sugar available in the U.S. market, the large majority of sugar is grown and sold domestically. So unlike a trip to your local supermarket, as an investor, your choice is limited if you want to speculate on the sugar market as a shareholder.

While this may simplify your choices, Imperial Sugar may leave a bitter taste in your mouth. Increasing sugar prices in 2009 helped Imperial's stock price gain 22.5% last year, but it didn't prevent another unprofitable year for the company. In fiscal years 2008 and 2009, the firm was unable to turn a profit, due in large part to an explosion at one of its refineries in 2008. This explosion crippled its sugar refining capacity and has contributed to a substantial decline in sales for the previously mentioned two years.

Despite this set back, Imperial has regrouped and recently finished reconstructing its damaged refinery. Capacity is expected to return to its 2007 level this year, which would mean doubling 2009's production and, with all things being equal, at least a 67% increase to the top line. However, this comes at a cost, as the company had to resort to borrowing in order to finish construction of its refinery and maintain its operations. This debt adds risk for shareholders, as repayment of this debt will have to come from earnings in the future.

However, this added risk could have a potentially large payoff. Should the firm's sugar refining capacity return to normal and sugar prices continue to rise in the future then this 5-star CAPS stock could be headed for a sweet ride upwards as the profits roll in. In fact, the firm scored a big accounting profit in the fiscal first quarter this year and was free cash flow positive. On the other hand, if another incident hinders the company's refining capacity, it could be tough for shareholders to swallow.

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