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Food Stocks to Buy into a Brexit Panic

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As markets continue to see selling pressure from the recent Brexit vote, investors should look to food as a place to hide. In January and February we saw markets sell off quickly, and the only safe havens for stocks were utilities and food. Stocks like Campbell’s (CPB - Free Report) and Tyson (TSN - Free Report) had monster runs, while better known names like Apple (AAPL - Free Report) and Netflix (NFLX - Free Report) were crushed. Listed below are 4 top Zacks Rated stocks where there is potential to hide if we see more selling pressure over the summer.

J.M. Smucker (SJM - Free Report) is a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) that is household name known for its fruit spreads, ice cream toppings, beverages and peanut butter. The Orville, Ohio company has almost 7,000 employees and offers its products under the Folgers, Dunkin Donuts, Jif, Crisco, Kibbles n Bits brands names as well as many more.

The company is valued at a $17.5 Billion market cap with a Forward P/E of 19. The valuation seems high for a company like Smucker and that is shown by a Value Style Score of “D”. However, a mild inflationary environment, as well as supply chain improvements, will lead to improving margins, helping the bottom line. For now, investors are completely ignoring the valuation.

Analysts are in agreement with that notion, as we have seen as many as 7 upside estimate revisions over the last 30 days for fiscal year 2016. Furthermore, revisions for the fiscal year have been rising from $6.39 to $7.70 during that period, a 20% move higher. The company next reports earnings on August 25th.

Smuckers also pays a 1.83% dividend, which will support the stock if macro market pressures persist and bonds yields continue lower. Below is a ten year chart where you can see the outperformance of the stock versus the S&P 500.

ConAgra (CAG - Free Report) is a packaged food company and a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). The company offers products many of us are familiar with such as: Banquet, Blue Bonnet, Chef Boyardee, Healthy Choice, Hunt’s, Orville Redenbacher’s, PAM, Peter Pan, Slim Jim, and Swiss Miss.

The Omaha, Nebraska based company (moving to Chicago in 2016) is valued at $20.5 Billion with a Forward P/E of 19. The chart below shows ConAgra has surprised on EPS 6 out of the last 7 times. More importantly, price action following earrings was to the upside. ConAgra also has a dividend, paying investors 2.1% to wait out any market rout. The company reports this Thursday before the bell.

CONAGRA FOODS Price and EPS Surprise


Post Holdings(POST - Free Report) is a North American manufacturer, marketer, and seller of cereal products and a Zacks Rank #1 (Buy). Some popular brands include: Post, Honey Bunches of Oats, Grape-Nuts, Honeycomb Frosted Mini Spooners, Golden Puffs, Cinnamon Toasters, Abbotsford Farms, Simply Potatoes, Crystal Farms, PowerBar, Uncle Sam, Erewhon, Sweet Home Farm, and Pebbles brands.

The company has a $5 Billion market cap with a forward P/E of 34. The stock sports a Zacks Style score of “A” in Growth and has a VGM score of “B”.

Analysts have revised current fiscal year estimates 41% higher over the last 60 days, from $1.60 to $2.26. In the same time period, estimates for the current quarter are seen 80% higher, headed form $0.29 to $0.47. The company has a volatile past, but has now beaten EPS four out of the last five quarters and stock momentum has followed higher. The company next reports earnings on August 4th.  

POST HOLDINGS Price and EPS Surprise


United Natural Foods (UNFI - Free Report) is a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) that distributes and retails natural, organic, and specialty foods and non-food products in the United States and Canada. The Providence, Rhode Island based company has almost 9,000 employees and offers grocery and general merchandise, produce, perishables and frozen foods, nutritional supplements and sports nutrition, bulk and foodservice products, and personal care products.

The company is valued with a $2.3 Billion market cap with a Forward P/E of 18. The stock sports Zack Style Scores of “A” in Growth and “B” in Value, as well as a VGM score of “A”.

United Natural has seen earnings revision trend higher for both fiscal year 2016 and 2017. Estimates for 2016 have gone from $2.37 to $2.51 over the last 30days, a gain of 5.9%. For 2017 we have seen a revision higher of 5%, from $2.54 to $2.67.

The company next reports on September 20th and looking at the surprise chart below, we see a possible change in momentum since the stock started to fall back in early 2015.

UTD NATURAL FDS Price and EPS Surprise


In Summary

As I see the markets start to weaken I will be looking for what worked early this year during the January market rout. Food and utility stocks outperformed and will continue to do so this summer if the Brexit news brings more fear to global markets.

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