General Mills (GIS) - Get Report notched disappointing earnings in its third quarter as sales dipped 5% and fell just short of analysts forecasts. More alarmingly, the company's sales in North America, where it generates two-thirds of its business, fell 8% amidst steep declines in its yogurt business and some weakness in its cereals segment.
A byproduct of the report: Stifel Nicolaus downgraded the stock from buy to hold, noting "a growing concern around the sales improvement at the company and the related margin improvement outlook.
TheStreet's Jim Cramer, manager of the Action Alerts PLUS portfolio said on Wednesday CNBC "Stop Trading" that it isn't time to sell the stock. "Let's just remember before you starting selling General Mills, you have a nice yield (and) it has some big brands."
General Mills' yield is over 3%. Shares were down nearly 1.5% in Wednesday trading and have declined nearly 4% over the past 10 days.
General Mills' iconic brands include Cheerios and Chex. It also produces Yoplait and other yogurt products.
As more consumers opt toward fresher food and away from packaged goods, major cereal manufacturers have suffered. Stifel also said that it was waiting for "stronger consumption trends." The downgrade came just a day after a Sanford Bernstein analyst downgraded General Mills from market perform to underperform. In the same note, the analyst also downgraded rival Kellogg along with packaged food manufacturers J.M. Smucker and Campbell Soup. The analyst emphasized changing consumer trends, which are less than ideal for business growth.
Such other major packaged food brands might as Kraft Heinz or Mondelez International might consider making a bid for General Mills. "Kraft Heinz isn't just sitting there and saying, 'wow, they're doing a bad job," Cramer said, although he also noted a "disconnect between "sound strategy and execution" at the company and that the "volume cuts" were bad."