Crops and livestock are delivering among the biggest returns of any investment category so far in 2014.
With US stocks more or less flat so far this year, many food and grain commodities are up at least 15 percent. These include cattle, hogs, soybeans, wheat, corn, coffee and orange juice. The Commodities Research Bureau’s US Spot Foodstuff Index recently was up 19 percent in 2014.
As the Standard & Poor’s 500 surged 30 percent in 2013, the agricultural index tumbled 22 percent. There are several reasons for the reversal of fortune so far in 2014, all related to global supply problems.
These include cold weather in much of the US; drought in California, Brazil and elsewhere; a hog virus in the US; and concerns about exports of wheat and corn from the Ukraine and Russia.
Meanwhile, the Dept. of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the consumer price index rose just 1.1 percent in the 12 months through February. But the food index rose 0.4 percent in February alone, its largest increase since September 2011. The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs climbed 1.2 percent while fruits and vegetables rose 1.1 percent.
Best Consumer Stocks To Own Right Now: Pinnacle Foods Inc (PF)
Pinnacle Foods Inc., incorporated on July 28, 2003, is a manufacturer, marketer and distributor of branded food products in North America. The Company operates in three segments: the Birds Eye Frozen Division, the Duncan Hines Grocery Division and the Specialty Foods Division. The Birds Eye Frozen Division and the Duncan Hines Grocery Division, which collectively represent its North America Retail operations, include the brands. Its brand portfolio enjoys household penetration in the United States, where its products can be found in approximately 85% of U.S. households. Its products are sold through supermarkets, grocery wholesalers and distributors, mass merchandisers, super centers, convenience stores, dollar stores, drug stores and warehouse clubs in the United States and Canada, as well as in military channels and foodservice locations. On June 24, 2011, the Company completed the sale of its Watsonville, California facility which had been recorded as an asset held for sale.
Birds Eye Frozen Division
The Company’s Birds Eye Frozen Division includes its steamed and non-steamed product offerings, with a 27.0% market share, making Birds Eye the recognized frozen vegetables brand in the United States. Birds Eye was the Company to capture a nationwide market share with a product that enables consumers to conveniently steam vegetables in microwaveable packaging.
Duncan Hines Grocery Division
Duncan Hines is the division’s brand and includes cake mixes, ready-to-serve frostings, brownie mixes, muffin mixes, and cookie mixes. During the fiscal year ended September 23, 2012, the Company added two additional items to the line. In February 2012, the Company introduced a line of frosting products, Duncan Hines Frosting Creations, which uses a patent pending frosting system to allow consumers to customize their frosting into one of 12 different flavors. The Company also offers a complete line of shelf-stable pickle products that we market and distribute n! ationally, primarily under the Vlasic brand, and regionally under the Milwaukee’s and Wiejske Wyroby brands. In 2012, the Company introduced Vlasic Farmers Garden, artisan-quality pickle line.
Specialty Foods Division
The Company’s snack products primarily consist of Tim’s Cascade, Snyder of Berlin and Husman’s. These direct store delivery brands have local awareness and hold market share positions in their regional markets. The Company also manufactures and distributes certain products, mainly in the frozen breakfast, canned meat, and pie and pastry fruit filling categories, through food service channels. The Company also manufactures and distributes certain private label products in the canned meat, shelf-stable pickles and frozen seafood. As part of its ongoing strategic focus over the last several years, the Company has deemphasized the food service and private label businesses for the benefit of its higher margin branded food products.
- [By Marc Bastow]
Branded food products distributor Pinnacle Foods (PF) raised its dividend 16.7% to 21 cents per share, payable on Jan. 10 to shareholders of record as of Dec. 2.
PF Dividend Yield: 2.95%
- [By Jacob Roche]
Recently, Pinnacle Foods (NYSE: PF ) held its initial public offering, priced at $20 per share, at the high end of the expected range. The IPO brought in a net $627 million for the company, and the stock has continued to trade up a bit. Now that the typical IPO dust is settling, however, it may be worth taking a look.
- [By Rich Duprey]
Shelf-stable and frozen food purveyor Pinnacle Foods (NYSE: PF ) is going to initiate a quarterly regular cash dividend, with the initial payment at $0.18 per share.
- [By Eric Volkman]
Diamond’s new hire was most recently CFO of privately held Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company. Before that, he filled the same role with a number of firms, including Cott and Swift & Company. Silcock launched his career at Campbell Soup (NYSE: CPB ) in 1979. He currently serves on the board of directors of Pinnacle Foods (NYSE: PF ) .
Best Consumer Stocks To Own Right Now: Suedzucker Mannheim Ochsenfurt AG (SZU)
Suedzucker Mannheim Ochsenfurt AG is a Germany-based company engaged in the processing of agricultural raw materials. The Company is organized, along with its subsidiaries, into four segments: the Sugar segment comprises sugar production and the agricultural division; the Special Products segment includes the activities of four divisions: BENEO, which produces and sells ingredients made from natural raw materials for food products and animal feed; the Freiberger Group is a producer of chilled and frozen pizzas, frozen pasta dishes and snacks; the PortionPack Europe group specializes in portion packs, and the starch division comprises starch companies in Hungary and Romania, bio-ethanol production in Austria and Hungary, as well as starch production facilities in Austria; the CropEnergies segment includes the bio-ethanol activities of the Company in Germany, Belgium and France, and the Fruit segment comprises the fruit juice preparations and fruit juice concentrates divisions. Advisors’ Opinion:
- [By Jonathan Morgan]
Volkswagen AG (VOW), Europe’s biggest automaker, climbed 3.7 percent as data showed European car sales increased for the first time in 19 months in April. Suedzucker AG (SZU) dropped to an eight-month low as J&E Davy Holdings Ltd. downgraded the shares.
Best Consumer Stocks To Own Right Now: Cott Corp (COT)
Cott Corporation (Cott), incorporated on December 31, 2006, is a producers of beverages on behalf of retailers, brand owners and distributors. The Company’s product lines include carbonated soft drinks (CSDs), 100% shelf stable juice and juice-based products, clear, still and sparkling flavored waters, energy products, sports products, new age beverages, and ready-to-drink teas, as well as alcoholic beverages for brand owners. The Company operates in five segments: North America (which includes the United States operating segment and Canada operating segment), the United Kingdom (which includes its United Kingdom reporting unit and its Continental European reporting unit), Mexico, Royal Crown International (RCI) and All Other. The Company markets or supplies over 500 retailer, licensed and Company-owned brands in its four core geographic segments. In March of 2012, its U.K. reporting segment acquired a beverage and wholesale business based in Scotland.
- [By Rick Munarriz]
It’s been a year of brand-widening initiatives for SodaStream, and not just because it cranked out its first Super Bowl ad back in February.
In February it teamed up with Ocean Spray to co-develop cranberry juice blends exclusively for the SodaStream system. This follows deals last year with Crystal Light, Kool-Aid, and V8 for non-conventional carbonated beverages. My 2012 wish for SodaStream to strike a deal with Monster Beverage (NASDAQ: MNST ) to make a bigger splash in the energy-drinks market hasn’t materialized, but a deal with EBOOST did happen earlier this year. The initial natural energy drink flavors of orange and acai pomegranate will hit the market as SodaStream syrups during the latter half of this year, packing an all-natural energy boost and vitamins in every serving. EBOOST doesn’t have the same allure as Monster or Red Bull, but the move was still a strong one since there’s a real value proposition for home-crafted energy drinks. If SodaStream is successful, the big boys will be on notice. In March, SodaStream, which is based in Israel, teamed up with private-label bottler Cott (NYSE: COT ) to produce SodaStream’s existing flavors at its facility in Georgia, making it easier to get SodaStream products into the country with the world’s largest soda consumption per capita.
The next chapter in what has been a successful year will naturally write itself on Wednesday. There is plenty to prove, even after SodaStream proves quarter after quarter that it’s not just a company behind a faddish novelty.
- [By Dan Caplinger]
But SodaStream is continuing to pull out all stops in order to improve its results. SodaStream’s recent partnership with Samsung to incorporate carbonation technology into high-end refrigerators could help drive growth for consumers who don’t want to deal with a separate appliance in their kitchens. Moreover, SodaStream’s deal in March with bottler Cott (NYSE: COT ) to produce soda syrup within the U.S. should help it boost its efficiency in getting flavors to domestic customers.
- [By Nicole Seghetti]
Regardless, private labels are becoming a bigger problem for companies such as Kraft and, to a lesser extent, Mondelez. According to an industry profile compiled by First Research, these brands typically cost 20% to 40% less than name-brand products. Couple that with the fact that more consumers are ditching big brands, and we can easily see why ConAgra (NYSE: CAG ) , Cott (NYSE: COT ) , and others are continually strengthening their private-label positions.
Best Consumer Stocks To Own Right Now: Control4 Corp (CTRL)
Control4 Corporation, incorporated on March 27, 2003, is a provider of automation and control solutions for the connected home. The Company provides its consumers with the ability to integrate music, video, lighting, temperature, security, communications and other functionalities into a unified home automation solution. The Company’s solution functions as the operating system of the home, making connected devices work together to control, automate and personalize the homes of its consumers. Control4 Home Operating System (C4 OS) is one of the product line of the Company. It embeds its C4 OS in a range of products, including controller appliances, interfaces and connected devices that interact with various music, video, lighting, temperature, security, communications and other devices. The Company offers its 4Sight subscription service, which allows consumers to control and monitor their homes remotely from their smartphone, tablet or laptop, and allows its dealers to perfo rm remote diagnostic services. The Company’s 4Sight allows consumer to remotely unlock the front door to let in a repairman, to turn on the air conditioning on the way home, and to monitor the home security cameras from a smartphone. In addition, its 4Store application marketplace offers a range of third-party applications for use with the Company’s products. The Company’s solution provides consumers with access to over 6,400 third-party devices.
At the center of the Control4 product line is the Control4 Home Operating System, and the associated application software and software development kits (SDKs). The high-level software components include Director, Navigator, Composer Professional Edition, Composer Home Edition and Composer Media Edition, DriverWorks SDK, and Navigator SDK and Application SDK. Director is a real-time, extensible home operating system kernel that is responsible for monitoring and receiving events from numer ous devices and services, processing those events according ! to consumer personalized settings, and then dispatching commands to the appropriate devices to perform predefined actions. Navigator displays intuitive and rich graphical user interfaces on televisions, in-wall and table-top touch panels, smartphones and tablets, as well as list-based devices, such as a remote controls with LCD text-displays. Composer Professional Edition is a software application that enables trained and certified Control4 dealers and installers to design, configure and personalize a Control4 home automation system for consumers. Composer Home Edition and Media Edition enable consumers to view and configure their Control4 managed devices. These drag-and-drop programs provide the ability to manage digital media and create and modify simple programs and policies (such as changing lighting scenes, modifying custom buttons and controlling behaviors among devices based on schedules or times of the day). DriverWorks SDK is a software development kit that enables dealers, programmers and device manufacturers to independently develop and test custom two-way interface drivers to support the integration of a new device or device model into its system, or to customize and enhance an existing driver. Navigator SDK and Application SDK are software development kits that enable third-party dealers and programmers to customize and deliver new application functionality within Navigator user interfaces on Control4 interface devices through the development of applications.
Products with Embedded Software and Services
The Company’s controller appliances run its Director software to monitor, process and automate events, statuses and actions for numerous devices and services, creating a connected home experience. It offers the HC-800, a whole home controller appliance, and the HC-250, a single-room controller appliance. It also licenses its Director software on the new Sony ES 5800 and 2800 receivers, transforming them i nto controller appliances with home theater audio and video ! capabilit! ies. The Company offers touch panels, handheld remote controls and keypads as interface devices. It also develops and delivers software applications for Apple iOS and Android smartphones and tablets that enable these personal devices to become control interfaces to Control4 connected homes, both on-premise and remotely. The Company offers network-enabled 4×4 and 8×8 zone audio amplifiers, and a 16×16 audio matrix switch for versatile multi-room and whole-home audio distribution. It also offers an integrated digital media player for integration of local digital audio and video, as well as Wi-Fi and Ethernet amplified speaker points for streaming digital audio to speakers in areas without an audio receiver.
The Company offers a suite of lighting products that provide personalized control and energy management. Its suite of wireless light switches and dimmers can replace devices in an existing home or be installed in new homes. It offers in-wall wireless switches and dimmers for 120V, 240V and 277V electrical loads, which meet the requirements of North America and many international markets. The also plan to offer panelized systems, where all of the lighting control will be done on a remote panel. Its new Control4 lighting products will have the ability to measure how much energy each load is using and provide suggestions to the consumer on how to conserve energy and reduce costs. The Company offers devices that provide energy savings, convenience and efficiency for temperature control. Its wireless multi-stage thermostat is completely programmable with up to six set points per day and, using its 4Sight subscription service, is remotely accessible and controllable. The Company provides a set of products and software services created by the Company, as well as distribute certified third-party products, including deadbolts, door and window sensors, motion sensors, garage access systems and water leak detection systems, from its securit y partners, such as Baldwin, Card Access, Kwikset and Yale. ! The Compa! ny offers full motion video and hi-fidelity audio intercom capability through its in-wall and tabletop touchscreens, as well as its exterior weather-resistant door stations. 4Sight is a subscription service that enables 24×7 home monitoring and control from virtually anywhere, remote home programming and support, and instant email alerts based on home events so that homeowners are always in-the-know.
The Company offers a subscription service called 4Sight that enables remote access to the connected home without exposing the installer or consumer to the complexities of communicating around firewalls and private Internet Protocol addresses. This service facilitates connections between remote client devices and its systems through a cloud-based service. Using 4Sight, consumers can remotely monitor and control their Control4 systems as if they were at their homes.
The Company competes with AMX, Crestron, Apple, Google, Microsoft and Samsung, Savant, L ogitech, Lutron, Nest, Roku, Sonos and Universal Remote Control, ADT, Comcast, Verizon and Vivint.
- [By Jason Moser]
In this edition of The Motley Fool’s “Ask a Fool” series, Motley Fool analysts Jason Moser and Brendan Mathews take a question from a reader who asks, “Is there any specific reason why Control4 (NASDAQ: CTRL ) is pretty volatile? Seems like it’s up or down over 5% everyday!”
- [By Rick Aristotle Munarriz]
Alamy You can never know in advance all the news that will move the market in a given week, but some things you can see coming. From food giants to tech bellwethers, here are some of the things that will help shape the week that lies ahead on Wall Street. Monday — Organic Growth: The market for organic foods has never been hotter, and Annie’s (BNNY) is there to cash in on consumers craving more natural edibles. It makes organic pastas, crackers, frozen pizzas, and other food products. Annie’s reports after the market closes on Monday. It should be another quarter of healthy growth. Analysts see revenue and earnings growing by roughly 20 percent for the quarter that ended in December. The one thing that investors will need to watch out for is that Annie’s has missed Wall Street’s profit targets in the previous two quarters. Tuesday — In Control: One of last month’s big winners was Control4 (CTRL). Shares of the home automation specialist soared 29 percent in January, bucking the market, which took a bit of a tumble. And you don’t have to look too hard to spot the catalyst behind its rally. Google’s (GOOG) acquisition of smart thermostat maker Nest drew attention to Control4 as another play on automated home technology. The thinking here is that if Google is buying into the niche of Web-fueled home automation, other dot-com giants may consider acquiring Control4 to establish a presence in this new battlefield. Control4 reports on Tuesday. It’s unlikely to admit that it’s receiving buyout interest on the heels of Google’s move, but you know it’s going to be asked. Wednesday — The Cisco kid: It may seem hard to believe, but there was a time when Cisco (CSCO) was this country’s most valuable company. Just before the dot-com bubble popped, the leading provider of routers, switches, and other networking gear commanded the market’s largest market cap. Then again, at the time we thought that anything Web-related was worth a whole lot of money, and Cisco was the co
- [By Jon C. Ogg]
Control4 Corp. (NASDAQ: CTRL) was started as Buy at Canaccord Genuity on a likely late Tuesday call. This one was started as Buy at BofA/Merrill Lynch on Tuesday as the broker quiet period ended.
- [By Jon C. Ogg]
Control4 Corp. (NASDAQ: CTRL) was started as Buy with a $26 price target at BofA/Merrill Lynch.
Halliburton Co. (NYSE: HAL) was reinstated as Buy with a $62 price target at BofA/Merrill Lynch, and remember this one we recently dubbed the current king of the stock buybacks.
Best Consumer Stocks To Own Right Now: Alliance One International Inc (AOI)
Alliance One International, Inc., incorporated on October 19, 1994, is a leaf tobacco merchant. The Company is engaged in purchasing, processing, packing, storing and shipping tobacco to manufacturers of cigarettes and other consumer tobacco products globally. The Company deals primarily in flue-cured, burley, and oriental tobaccos that is used in international brand cigarettes. The Company’s revenues are primarily comprised of sales of processed tobacco and fees charged for processing and related services to these manufacturers of tobacco products. The Company does not manufacture cigarettes or other consumer tobacco products.
Tobacco is primarily purchased directly from suppliers with small quantities still sold at auction. In non-auction markets, the Company purchases tobacco directly from suppliers and the Company assumes the risk of matching the quantities and grades required by its customers to the entire crop it must purchase under contract. The Compa ny purchases tobacco in more than 35 countries. During the year ended March 31, 2013 (fiscal 2013), approximately 30% of the Company’s purchases of tobacco were from the South America operating segment, approximately 5% were from the Value Added Services operating segment and approximately 65% from the Other Regions operating segment.
The Company processes tobacco to meet each customer’s specifications as to quality, yield, chemistry, particle size, moisture content and other characteristics. Unprocessed tobacco is a semi-perishable commodity that generally must be processed within a relatively short period of time to prevent fermentation or deterioration in quality. The Company processes tobacco in more than 35 owned and third-party facilities around the world including Argentina, Brazil, China, Zimbabwe, Jordan, Guatemala, India, Tanzania, the United States, Malawi, Thailand, Germany, Indonesia, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Turkey. These facilities encompass all export locations of flue-cured, burley and oriental tobaccos! . In addition, the Company has entered into contracts, joint ventures and other arrangements for the purchase of tobacco grown in substantially all other countries that produce export-quality flue-cured and burley tobacco. The Company also sells a small amount of processed but unthreshed flue-cured and burley tobacco in loose-leaf and bundle form to certain customers. In 2013, Alliance One delivered approximately 41% of its tobacco sales to customers in Europe and approximately 19% to customers in the United States. In 2013, these Belgium sales accounted for 20% of sales to customers in Europe. The Company ships tobacco to manufacturers of cigarettes and other consumer tobacco products located in approximately 90 countries around the world as designated by these manufacturers.
The Company competes with Japan Tobacco, Inc. (JTI), Philip Morris International, Inc. (PMI), and Imperial Tobacco Group PLC.
- [By Sally Jones] ng>Predictability: 1 out of 5 Stars
Down 12% over 12 months, Alliance One International Inc. has a market cap of $251.53 million; its shares were traded at around $2.86, which is 2.4% above its 52-week low. The P/E ratio is 65.10, and the P/B ratio is 0.80.
Alliance One is a tobacco leaf supplier serving the world’s largest cigarette manufacturers. The company purchases, processes, packs, stores and ships tobacco to manufacturers of cigarettes and other consumer tobacco products throughout the world. Alliance One deals mainly in tobacco types used in international brand cigarettes. As a tobacco leaf merchant, Alliance One purchases tobacco grown in over 45 countries and serves cigarette manufacturers in over 90 countries.
The company reported financial results for the quarter ended June 30, 2013, with a net loss of $36.9 million, down further from a net loss in the same quarter last year of 30.7 million. The net loss translates to $(0.42) per basic share for the reporting quarter.
Historical share pricing, revenue and net income:
[ Enlarge Image ]
Guru Action: As of June 30, 2013, Seth Klarman holds 7,669,969 shares, valued at $29.14 million, and weighting his portfolio at 0.72%. In the second quarter, he sold 461,625 shares at an average price of $3.74 for a loss of 23.5%.
In six quarters of double-digit losses, Klarman has averaged a loss of 31% on 5,800,000 shares bought at an average price of $4.17 per share. He has averaged a loss of 38% on 1,798,473 shares sold at an average price of $4.59 per share.
Seth Klarman is one of six gurus holding AOI as of June 30, 2013, and there is recent insider trading.
Kinross Gold Corporation (KGC)
Predictability: 1 out of 5 Stars
Down 54% over 12 months, Kinross Gold Corporation has a market cap of $5.32 billion; its shares were traded at around $4.66, 2.8% above its 52-week low. The P/B ratio is 0.80. The dividend yield is 3.44%.
K inross Gold Corporati
- [By John Emerson]
As noted previously, I rode the elevator up and then back down on Camtek (CAMT), a tiny Israeli automated optical inspection (AOI) company. By late 2008 the company had fallen to below $1 per share. Both of Camtek’s larger rivals, RTEC and ORBK, had dropped to absurdly low levels by November 2008. I used the opportunity to switch out of CAMT and some of my other losing propositions in favor of these superior companies. In the process, I created a large amount of tax loss carry-forwards which would allow me to minimize my future taxation when I decided to sell these cyclical entities.
Best Consumer Stocks To Own Right Now: Whirlpool Corporation(WHR)
Whirlpool Corporation engages in the manufacture and marketing of home appliances worldwide. Its principal products include laundry appliances, refrigerators and freezers, cooking appliances, dishwashers, mixers, and other portable household appliances. The company also produces hermetic compressors for refrigeration systems. It markets and distributes its products under various brand names, including Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air, Amana, Roper, Estate, Admiral, Gladiator, Inglis, Acros, Supermatic, Consul, Brastemp, Eslab