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Sep 6, 2019

Beyond Meat a 'sell' again as growth potential questioned

Sell Beyond Meat, the market for it is not that big: Analyst


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The market for Beyond Meat Inc.’s plant-based meat products could be smaller than that of alternative milk, which is typically used as a proxy for growth projections, according to DA Davidson.

Analyst Brian Holland initiated Beyond Meat with the equivalent of a sell rating, saying his thesis doesn’t reflect a bearish view on the company or its products but rather a more cautious approach to the faux-meat total addressable market. His price target of $130 implies a 19% downside from the stock’s last closing price.

“The current ‘tech’ valuation, in our view, ignores comparative barriers to entry & consumer efficacy that are inherently lower in packaged food,“ the analyst said.

Shares fell as much as 5.8 per cent on Friday, the most since Aug. 15.

Holland says there are fewer people who “have to” find an alternative to animal meat as compared to milk consumers, who can have lactose intolerance. He estimates a plant-based market opportunity of US$95 billion for the foreseeble future, with Beyond Meat grabbing a third of that by 2028.

The size of the plant-based meat market has been one of the biggest debates in the food industry recently. Given the nascent nature of the products, estimates range from between US$10 billion and US$40 billion to as high as US$140 billion. At a Barclays conference on Thursday, Beyond Meat’s presentation slides indicated a US$35 billion opportunity in the U.S. based on alternative milk’s penetration and the size of the U.S. meat market in 2017.

While Holland is skeptical of the comparison, Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown said the milk proxy creates a lot of “noise” and the plant-based market could be “larger than people can think today.”

Despite sliding from its July peak, Beyond Meat shares still trade 544 per cent higher than their debut price in early May. One other analyst rates the company an equivalent of sell, while 7 rate it hold. Only one of the 10 analysts tracked by Bloomberg has a buy rating on the stock.

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