When you're the world's biggest soup maker, it's important to have good stock.
Campbell Soup (CPB) reported Monday that its fiscal-first quarter earnings rose 17%, beating Wall Street's view by a hearty 6 cents a share. True, revenue dipped slightly, but that was more due to difficult year-over-year comparisons and the fact that Campbell rolled out its major soup-season marketing campaign a couple of months early this year.
Like other food companies, Campbell is benefiting from cash-strapped consumers eating more meals at home during the Great Recession (no soup line jokes, please), a trend that is likely to continue for some time. As CEO Douglas Conant reminded analysts on a conference call, condensed soup, which can sell for less than a buck when on sale, should continue to sell well as the jobless recovery lingers.
Beyond the fundamentals, shares are appear attractively valued. At less than 14 times forward earnings, the stock offers about a 25% discount to the S&P 500 ($INX), and a 15% discount to its own five-year average, according to Thomson Reuters. By price/earnings-to-growth, which measures how fast a stock is rising relative to its growth prospects, shares offer a slight discount to the broader market and a 20% discount to their own five-year average.
Analysts' average price target stands at $36.15, according to Thomson Reuters. Throw in the savory 2.9% dividend yield and you get an implied upside of nearly 8% in the next 12 months or so. If Campbell keeps its winning streak alive -- it has now beaten the Street for six consecutive quarters -- that return should be easily achievable.
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