Plant-Based 'Meat' Cooks Up Big Money

STAPLETON  Reuters

Beyond Meat Inc. shares soared late Thursday after the maker of plant-based burgers beat Wall Street's expectations in its first earnings report since its initial public offering in May and issued a rosy sales forecast.

The company is expecting revenue to climb above $210 million in 2019, more than double last year's net sales.

"We feel very strongly that we have solid capacity that is in excess of our 2019 and (2020) forecast", Brown said. Excluding items, it lost 14 cents per share.

Analysts on average forecast full-year sales of $205 million, and a loss, before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, of $10.28 million, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

Ten-year-old Beyond Meat burst into the spotlight last month with its IPO on Nasdaq. Its shares jumped 163% in the first day of trading, the biggest first-day pop since 2015, according to Renaissance Capital. Because the company is geared towards consumers who want to reduce their meat consumption not only vegans or vegetarians it wants to be placed next to its biggest competitor: real meat.

Anticipation was high ahead of Beyond's report, as investors waited to find out how the much-hyped company that makes plant-based protein has been performing.

"Find it in the meat aisle", the company's website says of its sausages and burger patties, which are made of yellow pea protein, coconut and canola oil.

'It is very, very hard to build products with the level of ingredient integrity that we have, ' Brown said.

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For retailers, it may be worth the potential confusion to place Beyond Meat products where the company wants them to be.

At the 35 Kings Food Markets and Balducci's Food Lover's Markets across New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and the Washington D.C. area, Beyond Meat products are sold both in the dairy and meat section. Technomic is a sister company of Restaurant Business.

Grocery store sales made up $19.6m of sales during the quarter and sales to eateries such as Carl's Jr and Del Taco accounted for $20.6m.

"As we are entering into additional test and distribution channels and take on new customers, those will be additive to our numbers", Brown said. The space is only getting more crowded, and the sooner Beyond Meat can solidify brand loyalty among shoppers and satisfactory performance for grocers, the stronger position it will have as Nestlé, Impossible Burger and others reach grocery aisles.

'It's nothing that would break our system, ' he said. The performance shows "mainstream consumers' desire for plant-based meat products in the United States and internationally", he said.

Impossible Foods, which has so far focused on supplying restaurants, plans to sell its Impossible Burger in supermarkets' meat cases by the end of the year.

The plant-based burger company did not comment, but noted in its regulatory filings that its growth could be stunted depending on placement.

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