The Economic Data calendar for the week of the 18th of May through the 22nd of May is full of critical releases and events. Here is a snapshot of some of the headline numbers that we will be focused on.
Takeaway: Currently estimated that more than 30 million birds have been euthanized because of AI.
This is an unprecedented outbreak that U.S. farmers have never had to deal with, it is currently estimated that more than 30 million birds have been euthanized because of AI.
Thursday, May 14th, Post Holdings announced that roughly 25% of the company’s egg supply has been affected after the most recent AI outbreak in company owned chickens in Nebraska. Just three days ago on Tuesday they announced the flu had affected 20% of their supply. When they announced the 20% it was estimated it would be a $20 million hit, they are working on updating this estimate now.
Tuesday, May 12th, agriculture officials confirmed that the outbreak has been spread to Nebraska, making it the 16th state with confirmed cases of the virus.
May 1st, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad declared a state of emergency due to the outbreak in his state.
Into the Note:
It is widely accepted that the Avian Flu virus poses no threat to humans, but every chicken or turkey that is infected must be destroyed in order to preserve the health of the poultry population. We are beginning to see an impact on prices and availability at the grocery store. Dr. Dermot Hayes, an agricultural economist at Iowa state explained that, “…for every million birds we lose, we’ll see about a 1.6% price increase…We’re looking at between a 20-30% increase in retail prices.” With these rise in prices it’s not just the cartons of eggs that will be affected, there are many products like mayonnaise and ice cream that use eggs as an ingredient.
What does this mean for the rest of the breakfast category?
Per our recent discussion with David Sprinkle at Packaged Facts, eggs hold the number 1 household usage rates for breakfast in the United States, as seen in the chart below.
With these rising prices soon to be seen across the country, we do not believe usage will stay this high. Average price for a dozen eggs in March 2015 was $2.13 per dozen (BLS), while a box of Cheerios on Amazon Fresh are $2.99 and Milk is $3.46/gl (BLS). As the price of eggs begins to creep up, we believe that it won’t be a default choice for consumers to pick up a dozen eggs as their go to choice for breakfast.
GIS, K, POST
We expect to see slight benefit going forward in the cereal category as consumers rethink their breakfast choice and go back to the classic bowl of cereal. But the bigger problem we see is the hit this will be to POST’s earnings. POST’s Michael Foods division a processor and distributor of mainly egg products representing ~28% of POST net sales, will undoubtedly be an area of concern for management. POST management recently stated, “Michael Foods is taking various measures including discontinuation of certain product lines and appropriate pricing actions to offset reduced egg supply and increased operating costs.” This spells trouble for earnings going forward and there is no telling yet just how deep the impact will be.
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Takeaway: One way an activist can transform this portfolio is to do a Reverse Morris Trust (RMT)
GIS is on the HEDGEYE Best Ideas list as a LONG!
GIS is a great company with strong brands. Its business practices and backward looking are insular. Reshaping the portfolio of brands, CPW and G&A cuts are just some of the ways to create significant shareholder value.
We view GIS as an attractive target for an activist and that the recent performance suggests that management may be too stuck in the past to reshape the company in a way that will accelerate top line growth. As it stands today, given the current portfolio of brands, it’s unlikely that management will be able to accelerate top line growth without making significant changes to the company.
As we outlined in our Black Book on GIS, we continue to believe that the opportunity to create significant shareholder value from repositioning the company is significant. A key tenant to the value creation strategy is a re-shaping of the company’s portfolio, which means selling the brands that management has determined as non-core brands.
GIS has been rumored to sell off a number of brands, but doing it one by one is inefficient and not tax effective. We calculate that management has identified roughly $5 billion in sales that are non-core brands that could potentially be sold.
One way an activist can present this possibility is to do a Reverse Morris Trust (RMT) with some of the brands. All of the brands that we have identified as non-core can fit nicely in a separate company.
The idea is to spin the slow growing low margin businesses into an RMT, leaving the NEW GIS as a company focused on the fast growing parts of the food business – yogurt, snacks and food service. It will also allow the company to focus on reinventing the core cereal business.
Below is a look into what an RMT is, precedent transactions using this method and a couple diagrams for a visual.
Let us know if you have any questions, or would like to discuss in more detail who GIS could partner with in a RMT.
Hedgeye Director of Research Daryl Jones shares the top three things in CEO Keith McCullough's macro notebook this morning.
Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda was up all night talking and talking…
...about his central planning experiment. And while he didn’t do anything exactly, Japanese Government Bonds (JGB 10yr) did – they are down 5 basis points to 0.39%. That’s the biggest move lower in a month. The Yen is down -0.4% versus the US Dollar.
The Weimar Nikkei? It likes this. It’s up +0.8% to +13.9% year-to-date.
Of the majors, Nikkei looks better than both the German DAX and S&P 500 right now.
This is a brief excerpt from Hedgeye morning research. Click here to see our full offerings.
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