Dean also managed to overcome some other big challenges. High feed prices from the summer's drought in the Midwest raised costs and squeezed margins. Moreover, during the fiscal cliff debate at the end of 2012, the "dairy cliff" crisis also arose, as a failure to renew key legislation could have resulted in a doubling of milk prices that would have crushed demand. The farm-bill crisis was eventually averted, and Dean managed to streamline its operations to cut costs as much as possible. But consolidation in the industry has left Dean having to fight with fellow giants The Kroger Co. (NYSE:KR) and Kraft Foods Group Inc (NASDAQ:KRFT) , and all three have seen their dairy operations suffer from the overall trend toward reduced milk consumption, which has declined 30% since 1975.
In its most recent earnings report, Dean didn't raise much enthusiasm. The company guided its 2013 earnings projections downward despite beating estimates for the fourth quarter of 2012, and shares sank in response.
For Dean to improve, it needs to find a way to jump-start its growth prospects. With the company having sold off its fastest-growing segments, however, it'll be a tall order to get Dean moving toward perfection in the near future.
Keep searching No stock is a sure thing, but some stocks are a lot closer to perfect than others. By looking for the perfect stock, you'll go a long way toward improving your investing prowess and learning how to separate out the best investments from the rest.
The article Has Dean Foods Become the Perfect Stock? originally appeared on Fool.com and is written by Dan Caplinger.
Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Dean Foods and WhiteWave Foods.
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