WhiteWave Foods (NYSE:WWAV) is on a terrific run this year on the back of robust demand for organic food products. The stock has gained an impressive 30% this year, and strong first-quarter results indicate that the company won't be running out of steam anytime soon. WhiteWave has done well despite the presence of bigger peers such as General Mills (NYSE:GIS) and Kraft Foods who are moving into the organic foods market. Looking ahead, WhiteWave's strategies and product innovation should help it improve further.
Let's take a look at the company's recent results and see why it could be a good long-term buy.
WhiteWave produced yet another quarter of terrific growth, with revenue increasing 36% to $830 million, resulting in a 40% jump in earnings to $0.22 a share. The company saw strong sales growth across all its brands, and the exceptional performance of its recently acquired Earthbound Farms led to 39% growth in revenue in North America. Also, WhiteWave saw strong volumes driven by its DHA Omega3 enhanced products.
Additionally, WhiteWave also increased its guidance for the second quarter and the full year. So, the company is doing well to capture the growth opportunity in the organic foods market. Going forward, it is looking to sustain this momentum on the back of more investments.
The opportunity and the strategies
As the organic foods market is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate, or CAGR, of 14% until 2018, WhiteWave's investments will play an important role in its growth. So, WhiteWave has increased its capital expenditure budget to $275 million for 2014 from the previously announced $230 million to $260 million. Since the company is seeing strong volume growth in North America and Europe that require additional production capacity, this seems to be the right move.
Moreover, it expects its organic sales to grow due to its value-added offerings such as silk almond milk in plant-based foods and beverages, and Horizon organic DHA Omega3 products in premium dairy. Both these products have grown at a robust rate, as Silk almond milk reported nearly 52% increase in sales and the Horizon brand grew around 7% in the first quarter of 2014 in North America.
In addition, WhiteWave plans to introduce various products such as flavored almond milk and coconut milk blends in plant based food & beverages going forward. Also, the company has launched new variety of almond milks with superior protein and fiber that are gaining traction in the market and increasing the popularity of its Silk brand. Besides this, WhiteWave has redesigned its packaging across the Silk product line to enhance brand awareness.
The company has also launched a national advertisement campaign to increase brand and category awareness in plant-based food & beverages. Such moves should help the company in gaining market share in markets in North America and Europe where it sells its products.
Speaking of markets, WhiteWave is targeting the Chinese market. It has entered into a venture with China Mengniu Dairy Company to manufacture and distribute products in China. WhiteWave owns a 49% stake in the company, and plans to start production in the second half of the current fiscal year.
Threats to watch
On the back of such moves, WhiteWave's growth should continue at a consistent rate. The company seems to have gained market share from the likes of Kraft and Kellogg, as reported by Reuters. However, WhiteWave needs to stay on top of its product innovation and market expansion as competition in the organic foods market space is expected to rise.
For example, Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) has resurrected the Wild Oats brand of organic products in a bid to make organic food more affordable. Wal-Mart is trying to eliminate the premium that consumers pay for buying organic food in order to push up volumes in its grocery business. According to Wal-Mart, it will be pricing Wild Oats' products similar to its conventional items, or around 25% lower than branded organic foods.
General Mills, on the other hand, is increasingly focused on introducing more healthy food options. In January, the company introduced an impressive 50 products in just one day. These products include the likes of Nature Valley nut clusters, Green Giant veggie snack chips, and new flavors and varieties of Yoplait and Fiber One yogurt.
With these products that are enriched with health benefits like protein, fiber, whole grains, or fruits and vegetables, General Mills is trying to gain a bigger share of the organic foods market. Hence, WhiteWave will need to stay nimble and swift if it is to sustain its terrific growth going forward.
The bottom line
WhiteWave is on a roll. The company is growing at a terrific pace and its investments in the product portfolio and expansion moves should help it do well going forward. The company has warded off competition from bigger peers quite efficiently, and given its strategies, it should be able to keep up its solid performance. Hence, investors should definitely consider an investment in WhiteWave as it looks well-positioned for the long run.
Yaggyaseni Mittra has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends WhiteWave Foods. The Motley Fool owns shares of WhiteWave Foods. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.