If you invested in BEAM Inc (NYSE:BEAM) exactly three years ago, then you have seen an 88% gain before dividend payments. While that isn’t spectacular compared to many other stocks throughout the broader market, it’s still nothing to complain about. Instead of complaining, you might as well pour yourself a bourbon, kick back, and reflect on your increased net worth. If you choose this course of action, good for you, but don’t get too comfortable.
Beam me sideways, Scotty
While 88% over a three-year time frame is impressive, the stock has only appreciated 3% year to date. This might still be a gain, but it’s not as impressive as peer performances. For example, Diageo plc (ADR) (NYSE:DEO) has appreciated 9%, and Constellation Brands, Inc. (NYSE:STZ) has delivered a 55% gain. And if you’re wondering about dividends, Bean currently yields 1.40%, whereas Diageo yields 2.90% and Constellation Brands offers no yield.
BEAM Inc (NYSE:BEAM) has seen gains this year thanks to growth, but the pace has slowed. Beam has cited slowing growth in the United States, Europe, and emerging markets. However, Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, and other core brands remain in high demand. Beam believes it’s capable of delivering continuous profitable growth by marketing the brand in established and emerging markets. At the same time, Beam will look for more effective ways to get its products to the market. Furthermore, Beam is counting on innovation to improve its top line. A lot of companies say they’re innovative, but only some deliver. Beam has innovated recently with Jim Beam Honey and Sauza Sparkling Margarita.
Going forward, BEAM Inc (NYSE:BEAM) will have to contend with higher raw material costs and the negative impact of foreign exchange. The latter is important because 45% of Beam’s business is international. If the consumer happens to weaken and these two headwinds play a role, then Beam will find itself in a pricing pressure situation. In other words, the company won’t have the ability to increase prices.
In the second quarter, net sales jumped 7% year over year, but part of this was due to the acquisition of Pinnacle Vodka. That said, volume and prices improved. Comps increased 5%, stemming mostly from higher volumes.
Overall, BEAM Inc (NYSE:BEAM) sees growth opportunities via innovation and expansion. On the other hand, growth has slowed and several headwinds are concerning because they have the potential to lead to pricing pressure. Perhaps a better investment option exists.
BEAM Inc (NYSE:BEAM) looks marginal on a fundamental basis when compared to peers:
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Diageo plc (ADR) (NYSE:DEO) is clearly the most impressive on a fundamental basis. It has the highest net margin (percentage of revenue turned into profit), the best ROE (percentage of investor dollars turned into profit), the biggest yield, and it’s cheaper than peers at 19 times earnings.
Diageo plc (ADR) (NYSE:DEO) is a much larger company than BEAM Inc (NYSE:BEAM), and it has seen pricing power and favorable product mix in emerging markets. Volumes have increased, and the company is now focusing on its highest-margin products in order to cut costs and improve the bottom line.
Constellation Brands, Inc. (NYSE:STZ) recently acquired Grupo Modelo’s U.S. beer business, which greatly increases the potential of what is already the largest wine producer in the world. Constellation Brands also has a solid history of beating expectations.