What: According to S&P Capital IQ data, shares of packaged-foods behemoth Post Holdings (NYSE:POST) climbed more than 21% in June. That puts the company's stock up nearly 23% for the year, after an abysmal 2014 that saw shares down more than 35% at one point:
So what: 2014 was a rather disappointing year, with the relatively new public company having a tough time executing on its strategy of acquiring and integrating other food suppliers and packaged-foods makers. (Post was taken public in a 2012 spinoff from former parent RalCorp Holdings.) Factor in the steady decline in the company's ready-to-eat cereal business as consumer tastes shift, and it's been a slow process of creating value for investors.
But the company made a pretty huge splash earlier this year, acquiring privately held MOM Brands, the company behind many of the store-brand and private label cereals -- especially the big bulk packages -- that make up a large percentage of U.S. cereal sales. While I wouldn't call this deal transformative for all of Post, it certainly transformed its cereal business, which will combine with MOM and be headquartered in MOM Brands' facilities in Minnesota and be run by MOM President Chris Neugent, under the newly created Post Consumer Brands segment.
This all preceded a pretty big beat when the company announced earnings on May 7. The stock surged about 10% following that, but it gave back all of those gains, and a little more, within a week, and the stock finished May down about 7%.
Now what: Frankly, none of these things happened in June, but it's likely they did set the stage for a recovery in June, and it's likely that has been the key driver behind the stock's recent recovery.
Looking ahead, Post is very likely to make more acquisitions of this sort, since that was laid out as part of the company's strategy from the moment it was spun out of RalCorp in 2012. So far it's looking as if Bill Stiritz's decision to step down as CEO last year hasn't been a problem, with his longtime lieutenant Rob Vitale so far executing effectively on the growth-by-acquisition strategy, as well as cutting costs with moves such as the decision to outsource manufacturing of PowerBar products, and closing that manufacturing facility to remain competitive and profitable.
These hard-yet-necessary decisions bode well for Vitale's ability to execute on the company's strategy and are probably indicative of market-beating results ahead.