Now that cooler days have arrived, and the frost is on the punkin, so to speak, my thoughts turn to comestibles: fancy foods, treat foods, holiday foods — even health foods. So I thought it might be worthwhile to do a completely unscientific survey of some of the small foodie companies that a person might find interesting on a dreary day when indoors is better than outdoors.
Please do your diligence and consult someone you trust before you buy any stocks. We are writing about companies we find interesting, and not recommending any investments.
The most distinctive and different company we found is NYC-based Artisanal Premium Cheese, whose corporate moniker is American Home Food Products Inc (OTCBB: AHFP, http://www.artisanalcheese.com/). This is the only real sophisticated cheese company we can find — and do they have cheese! Soft, hard, semi-soft, smelly-stinky, grating, European, American (you name it, and they probably have it). Perhaps more important, they have found ways to categorize it and make it intelligible to people who work in retail stores and people who want to serve cheeses at home without just guessing what’s what. Their “Cheese Clock” is a well-thought-out consumer education program. Their cheese caves are in NYC, and they offer tastings, and a Cheese-of-the-Month Club. How can you miss? AHFP shares barely trade, probably because most of them are owned by the cheesies who run the company: $0.10 on Friday the 13th, with average volume of just over 16,000 shares per day.
More mainstream is Morton Grove IL-based Lifeway Foods (Nasdaq: LWAY, http://www.lifeway.net/), which sells health foods, possibly most notably Kefir, a drinkable beverage made from fermented milk and not unlike yogurt. They also sell Kefir Bars for energy boosts, along with a plain farmer’s cheese and numerous other healthy alternatives to high-sugar snacks. They have inaugurated a new website, http://www.kefir.com, where you might win some comestibles yourself. LWAY closed on Friday at $11.67 on an ok average volume of about 31,000 shares per day, and a market cap of just under $200 million. LWAY revenues are surging, most recently at 38% year-over-year growth.
If your tastes run to organic foods, you might want to look at Toronto-based SunOpta Inc (Nasdaq: STKL, http://www.sunopta.com), a billion-dollar revenue marketer of organic, natural and health foods, which lost money in the third quarter due mostly to noncash charges. SunOpta is a full-cycle company, offering organic and natural foods from seed to packaged goods. STKL closed Friday at $3.51 vs a year’s range of $0.79 to $4.40, with average volume of 285,000 shares.
On those chilly mornings, nothing tastes better than a good cuppa, and there are a couple of coffee roasters you may want to look at: Staten Island-based Coffee Holding Co (NYSE Amex: JVA, http://www.coffeeholding.com/) , which sells green coffee beans, private-label roasted coffee and espresso, and its own brands of roasted coffees. Some of the labels are Entenmann, S&W, Via Roma, and Cafe Caribe. JVA closed at $4.50 on Friday, vs a year-high of $5.21, and average volume of about 35,000 shares a day. Market cap is $24 million or so, with sales in the range of $70 million for 2009, based on their 9-month results. JVA is profitable, though the profits are skinny, and it is a member of the Rainforest Alliance.
If you have both coffee and tea drinkers in your group, look at Vista CA-based Javo Beverage Co (OTCBB: JAVO, http://www.javobeverage.com/), which makes coffee and tea concentrates. Sales look to be running around $24 million annually, and the company is making losses, but revenue is growing rapidly. JAVO closed at $0.17 on Friday, vs a year-high of $0.40, with average volume of 117,000 shares, and a market cap of $48 million.
John B Sanfilippo & Sons (Nasdaq: JBSS, http://www.jbssinc.com/) , based in Elgin IL, has a winning product line for me, a nuts-nut from way back. JBSS sells about $500 million of peanuts and tree nuts, extrapolating from its latest quarterly earnings, and it is profitable, with a return on sales in the range of 3% or so, if my math is right. Filberts, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, pine nuts, macadamias and more (see http://www.fishernuts.com for their public face). How can it get any better than that? JBSS closed at $13.80 last week (not far off a year high after a strong run up), on average volume of 25,000 shares. Market cap is just shy of $150 million.
Finally, you gotta look at Paramus NJ-based Smart Balance Inc (Nasdaq: SMBL, http://www.smartbalance.com/), which makes the best organic, light, olive-oil-based buttery spread in the market (that’s an unashamed personal endorsement), and a really good peanut butter too. SMBL closed at $5.13 last week, on volume of about 450,000 shares, for a market cap of just over $320 million. SMBL is doing about $60 million a quarter in revenue, and moved from a last-year loss to a this-year profit in the Sept 30 quarter. Sales are growing in the mid-single-digits. Great products.