J.M. Smucker Attractive Despite Downbeat Outlook on Coffee Sales

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Add J.M. Smucker's (SJM) name to the list of food companies falling prey to the recent shift in consumers' demands and spending habits.

The fruit spread and packaged coffee company issued weak guidance for its fiscal second-quarter Wednesday when it reported preliminary earnings results. It also cut its full-year profit target, citing a sharp drop off in its Folgers coffee business. The lowered guidance comes on the heels of cuts in forecasts for General Mills (GIS) , which lowered its revenue and profit forecasts for its fiscal year 2015, while citing weak food-industry trends in the U.S. and slowing growth in key emerging markets.

For Smucker, the company projects $1.53 in adjusted earnings per share for the quarter ended in October. This is almost 8% below the consensus analyst estimate of $1.66, according to Thomson Reuters. Revenue, meanwhile, is projected to fall 5% year over year to $1.48 billion -- missing Wall Street estimates by 7.5%.

The company cited a 20% drop in volume for its Folgers brand coffee. The company raised coffee prices 9% in July, in an effort to boost revenue and better compete with the likes of Mondelez (MDLZ) and Nestle (NSRGY) . 

Nevertheless, this execution setback may not prevent the stock, which is down 3.62% on the year to date, from rebounding.

Smucker shares are relatively cheap, even at a trailing price-to-earnings ratio of 18. This is five points and seven points lower than ConAgra (CAG) and Hormel Foods (HRL) , respectively.  Smucker's P/E is four points below the industry average P/E of 22, according to Yahoo! Finance.

According to CNN Money, of the eleven analysts covering Smucker, the stock has a median 12-month price target of $111, which suggests gains of 11.6%. And the high analyst target of $120 presumes a 20% gain from current levels.

When you factor the lowest target of $98, which is 1.44% below where the stock is now trading at around $99.44, the risk is worth taken. Smucker also pays a yield of 2.40%, which is 50 basis points higher than the average yield paid by companies in the S&P 500 (SPY) , according to The Wall Street Journal.

Lastly, Smucker continues to buy back its stock. As announced on Oct. 17, The company just added another 5 million shares to its buyback program, doubling its current buyback plan to 10 million. This is roughly 10% of its outstanding shares. In August, the company had cut its share count by 4% since the start of 2013, helped by its aggressive buyback plan.

On a macro level, packaged food companies have yet to see the positive impact from slumping oil prices. With consumers saving more money at the gas pump, more money is left over to spend at the grocery stores. This is a potential catalyst for all food companies. 

At the time of publication, the author held no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

Follow @Richard_WSPB

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

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