Dean Foods (DF), on the other hand, is a food processing stock that's showing some stellar performance in 2012. So far this year, shares of the $3 billion company have rallied 47%. Dean is the biggest dairy processor and distributor in the country, with more than 50 brands and a private label business providing milk products under customers' marques.
Dairy is a fragmented business, and Dean Foods is the biggest name in town. Because the firm is so large, management has decided to unlock some shareholder value by spinning off a portion of its premium division, WhiteWave-Alpro, which owns popular brands like Horizon Organic and Silk soymilk. The unit's fast growth should help DF collect a high multiple in an IPO scenario, generating ample cash that the firm plans to use to decrease its debt load.Relative strength has been stellar for Dean in 2012, a positive factor that statistically tends to continue to be a boost to shares. Early-filing hedge funds have been working to take advantage of that tailwind, more than doubling their ownership by buying 7.02 million shares of Dean Foods. Dean Foods was one of the 10 Best-Performing S&P 500 Stocks in the Second Quarter.
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