Beyond Meat shares surge as cost controls bear fruit By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Vegetarian sausages from Beyond Meat Inc, the vegan burger maker, are shown for sale at a market in Encinitas, California, U.S., June 5, 2019. REUTERS

(Reuters) – Shares of Beyond Meat (NASDAQ:) Inc surged 13% in premarket trading on Friday as the plant-based meat maker’s results indicated that its cost control measures were finally bearing fruit.

At least three brokerages lifted their price targets on Beyond Meat’s shares, after the company on Thursday topped expectations for quarterly sales for the first time since June 2021 and forecast annual revenue slightly above estimates.

Beyond Meat’s shares have slumped about 65% in the past twelve months, hammered by a string of downbeat results and forecast cuts stemming from collapsing demand for faux meat and elevated levels of freight and raw material costs.

To stem its mounting losses, California-based Beyond Meat has cut 200 jobs, tightened its sourcing network, restructured certain contracts and ramped up automation in its manufacturing processes.

“Beyond Meat deserves credit for becoming more disciplined regarding profits and cash,” J.P. Morgan analyst Ken Goldman said.

The company expects operating expenses to slide 22% this year, compared with a 9% rise in 2022.

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Still, analysts cautioned that demand for plant-based meat remained weak, and that Beyond Meat faced a long road to profitability.

“We are encouraged by tighter cost management, but for us to become constructive, demand will have to increase – on this, we remain skeptical,” Cowen analyst Brian Holland said.

Analysts hold a largely bearish view on Beyond Meat, with seven of 17 brokerages covering its stock rating it “sell” or lower and 10 have a “hold” rating, according to Refinitiv data. It has a median price target of $12.50 – 27% below the stock’s last closing price.

“This was another cautiously more positive quarter, although the company is by no means out of the woods yet,” Bernstein analyst Alexia Howard said.

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