Zacks Bull and Bear of the Day Highlights: Cracker Barrel, Fresh Del Monte Produce, Sysco, Natural Grocers By Vitamin Cottage and Safeway

Mar 27, 2013, 09:30 ET from Zacks Investment Research, Inc.

CHICAGO, March 27, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Zacks Equity Research highlights Cracker Barrel (Nasdaq: CBRL) as the Bull of the Day and Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. (NYSE: FDP) as the Bear of the Day. In addition, Zacks Equity Research provides analysis on Sysco Corp (NYSE: SYY), Natural Grocers By Vitamin Cottage (NYSE: NGVC) and Safeway Inc (NYSE: SWY).


Full analysis of all these stocks is available at

Here is a synopsis of all five stocks:

Bull of the Day:

Not everyone in the food service business is thriving. Higher input costs and a cautious consumer with less income on average have been thinning out the hungry herds at some restaurants. One unique company that stands out in the space is Cracker Barrel.

Cracker Barrel (Nasdaq: CBRL) offers an affordable and tasty eat-in option for locals (622 company-owned locations in 42 states) and a strong mail order business that sells everything from food to furniture and even music. Heck they even produce and sell special edition CDs that feature acts like Brad Paisley and LL Cool J (how's that for diversity).

Their average restaurant check amount has been steadily increasing roughly 2.6% annually over the last 5 years (we have seen similar, but more pronounced strength in earnings in that time frame as well). Another fact I found interesting was that they have a fairly even split between breakfast, lunch and dinner traffic which keeps their restaurants and stores (mostly positioned just off major interstates) in a state of constant activity and operation.

Perhaps the bigger (or at least more interesting) story is not the stock's earnings momentum, but the recent maneuvers by Sardar Biglari of Biglari Holdings (BH) who now owns $355+ million worth (19.99% stake) of Cracker Barrel. Mr Biglari has been trying to shake things up a bit at the company and has failed to gain the control he wants.


 Bear of the Day:


I'm sure you've heard the name, as Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. (NYSE: FDP) is a world leader in the production, distribution and marketing of fresh produce. The DEL MONTE brand name is widely recognized in everything from bananas and pineapples to fruits and melons. The deciduous fruit the company sells includes primarily grapes, plums, nectarines, peaches, apricots, cherries, apples, pears and citrus.


Keep in mind that Fresh Del Monte Produce is separate from the Del Monte Company that manufactures food and pet products under brands such as namesake Del Monte, S&W, College Inn, Meow Mix and Kibbles 'n Bits; it was taken private in 2011 by KKR.


Recently the company sold its packaged foods and Asian fresh-fruit business for $1.7 billion to Japanese conglomerate Itochu to get much-needed cash and pay down debt. This certainly was a lifeline for the company, but they have a long road ahead of them and here wasn't much to cheer about in their last report.


Regardless of the bad news and massive restructuring, investors are still buying the stock. The problem is that it might not be the right choice for everyone and may take quite a while to get all the cockroaches out.

Revenue for the last quarter fell 0.5% year over year to $776.90 million in the quarter. Analysts expected close to $800 million in revenue which would have equated to earnings of 7 cents. Instead the company reported flat earnings, a huge miss.




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Sysco Hits 52-Week High

 Shares of Sysco Corp (NYSE: SYY) reached a 52-week high of $35.09 on Mar 25 and eventually closed at $35.02, reflecting a year-to-date return of 9.8%. The company beat its previous 52-week high of $33.88 attained on Mar 15.

Shares of this global food products maker and distributor have been riding high since it reported solid second quarter fiscal 2013 results on Feb 4. The company's long-term estimated EPS growth rate is 7.47%. Average volume of shares traded over the last three months came in at approximately 3,963K.

Growth Drivers

The company's strategy to grow through acquisitions and its efforts to reduce costs and improve efficiency drove Sysco shares to achieve a new high.

Sysco's second quarter fiscal 2013 results outperformed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 19.5%. Adjusted earnings of 49 cents also exceeded the prior-year quarter earnings by 4.3%, driven by solid top-line growth, gains from acquisitions, prudent expense management and moderating input cost environment.

In fact, Sysco has surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in six out of the last eight quarters, missing it on one occasion and matching in one quarter, thus posting an average surprise of 7.9%.

Sysco's sales grew 5.4% on a year-over-year basis to $10.8 billion in the second quarter, driven by volume growth. Second quarter sales also beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $10.7 billion. Acquisitions and currency translation also impacted sales favorably. Higher sales also drove the company's gross profit and adjusted operating profits despite higher adjusted operating expenses.

During the quarter, Sysco completed the acquisition of four independent foodservice companies, whose combined aggregate annual revenues amounted to $520 million in fiscal 2012. Sysco intends to achieve sales growth of 0.5% to 1% through its acquisitions over the long term.

Other Stocks to Consider

Sysco holds a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). However, there are other favorable stocks in the retail and wholesale sector that are worth considering. These include Natural Grocers By Vitamin Cottage (NYSE: NGVC) and Safeway Inc (NYSE: SWY). Safeway holds a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), while Natural Grocers carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).


Get the full analysis of all these stocks by going to


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Every day, the analysts at Zacks Equity Research select two stocks that are likely to outperform (Bull) or underperform (Bear) the markets over the next 3-6 months.


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