The food company reported fiscal second-quarter earnings of $469 million, or 79 cents a share, down from $833 million, or $1.30, a year earlier.
Adjusted earnings from continuing operations were 27 cents a share.Analysts were expecting profit of 25 cents a share. "We continue to recommend SLE based on our view that the coffee business is poised for a turnaround as well as the potential value creation of the split," Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts wrote in a report Thursday. Sara Lee is separating its meats division from its European beverage unit. Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts have a buy rating on the stock and $21 price target. The majority (eight) of the analysts who cover Sara Lee consider it a hold. Six categorized it as a buy and one rated it a sell. Shares of Sara Lee hit a 52-week high of $19.92 on Thursday. The stock's 52-week low of $15.66 was set on Oct. 4. Sara Lee's estimated price-to-earnings ratio for next year is 18.83. The average for the food products area is 13.89. For lower forward P/E ratios, look at Kellogg (K), Tyson Foods (TSN) and Smithfield (SFD) with 13.48, 7.85 and 8.01 forward P/E ratios, respectively. TheStreet Ratings gives Sara Lee a B- grade with a buy rating and $24.50 price target. The stock has risen 4.86% year to date.