NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- After several quarters of stale returns, and seeing its stock plummet 23% since June, shares of Dallas-based Dean Foods (DF) are back to life Monday, climbing 15% as of noon, reaching a intraday high of $16.60 following the company's better-than-expected third-quarter earnings report. And if that price holds, Dean Foods may become even more appetizing for the next couple of quarters, according to analysts' targets.
The chart above, courtesy of Google Finance, shows how the milk company has struggled since reaching its 2014 high of $18.15 in June. The good news is, shares are now around their median target of $16.50, which suggests they may now head to $22 -- their high analysts' 12-month price target, which calls for gains of around 37%.
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To top it all off, these shares, which (before Monday) had failed 16% over the past year, are cheap. The stock is trading at a trailing price-to-earnings ratio of 4.2, which is almost 17 points lower than the average price-to-earnings ratio of companies in the S&P 500 (SPY) , according to CNN Money.
And when compared to other food companies such as Mondelez (MDLZ) and ConAgra (CAG) , which are trading at trailing P/Es of 18 and 22, respectively, Dean Foods looks even more attractive. But it has to continue to execute, as it did in the third quarter.
For its part, Dean Foods posted a third-quarter loss of 17 cents per share. When adjusting for non-recurring costs and to account for discontinued operations, the loss was narrower at 3 cents per share, which beat Wall Street expectations of 13 cents per share. Third-quarter revenue of $2.37 billion also beat Wall Street estimates of $2.36 billion, according to research company Zacks.
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