By Ciara Linnane, MarketWatch
Shares of plant-based-meat manufacturer Beyond Meat Inc. soared another 13% Tuesday, bringing the stock’s post-IPO gain to a stunning 240%, after Bernstein initiated coverage with a bullish outperform rating.
The company /zigman2/quotes/211617595/composite BYND +0.77% , founded by vegan Ethan Brown in 2009, raised nearly a quarter of a billion dollars last week to grow its line of plant-based meats, with shares rocketing in their public debut. Excitement about the deal grew steadily after it first announced plans to go public late last year and hit new heights during its recent road show with investors, leading it to increase the size of the deal and raise its price range a day ahead of pricing.
“Beyond Meat served its own burgers at the road show, and then they ended up raising the price range,” said Kathleen Smith, principal at Renaissance Capital, a provider of institutional research and IPO exchange-traded funds. “The deal has been incredible. One reason is that it’s the only pure-play company doing this and because there’s an expectation they may sign up some big restaurants as clients.”
Speculation has been fueled by the presence of Don Thompson, chief executive and founder of venture firm Cleveland Avenue, on the Beyond Meat board, said Smith. Thompson is a former chief executive of fast-food giant McDonald’s Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203508018/composite MCD -1.65% , which he helmed from 2012 until his resignation in 2015.
“Restaurant chains are finding that they can draw customers just because they have this meat alternative, so that’s another appeal [of the stock’s],” said Smith.
Oppenheimer analysts led by Alexia Howard signaled their confidence in the company in a note to clients Tuesday that set an $81 share-price target, more than triple the IPO pricing level of $25. That target is equal to 13 times Oppenheimer’s fiscal 2020 sales estimate, versus the 20 times 2019 sales the stock is currently trading at, said the note.
“If the alternative meat category develops along a similar path to plant-based beverages (from 5%-15% of the market around a decade after the almond milk innovation turbocharged the category), then the total addressable market could be [approximately] $40.5 billion in the U.S. within a decade,” Howard wrote in a note to clients.
If Beyond Meat could secure a 5% share of that market — it has a 2% stake today — it would imply sales of $2 billion in 2028, compared with about $207 million this year.
Plant-based foods are more complex to manufacture than plant-based drinks, so the company may retain its competitive “moat” for some time, said the note.
“That said, Beyond Meat is up against Impossible Foods, which is staking out its turf in the restaurant space before launching into retail later this year, and larger players like Tyson /zigman2/quotes/201117502/composite TSN -2.16% and Nestlé /zigman2/quotes/208115528/delayed CH:NESN -0.35% are also looking to enter the U.S. market later this year,” the research note read.
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