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Beyond Meat Falls the Most Since 2020 Following Guidance Cut

Beyond Meat Falls the Most Since 2020 Following Guidance Cut
A package of Beyond Meat breakfast sausage arranged in a grocery store in Ardsley, New York, US, on Tuesday, May 9, 2023. Beyond Meat Inc. is scheduled to release earnings figures on May 10.

Beyond Meat Inc. plunged after the plant-based meat company backed away from a key financial target and cut its sales outlook, sparking fresh doubts among investors and analysts. 

The company’s cash reserves are dwindling as consumer interest in plant-based meat wanes. Management is revamping the business to reflect the new reality while slashing spending to achieve sustainable footing.The stock fell as much 22% in US trading on Tuesday, the most intraday since November 2020. The shares had gained 24% this year through Monday’s close.

Beyond Meat announced on Monday that it’s unlikely to meet its goal of becoming cash-flow positive in the second half of 2023. The company also trimmed its 2023 revenue outlook to a range of $360 million to $380 million, down from a previous range of as much as $415 million. Second-quarter revenue missed Wall Street’s estimates and cash reserves slipped for a ninth consecutive quarter.

“The guidance cut is disappointing, especially considering the decent start to the year,” said Arun Sundaram, an analyst at CFRA. “We’re now back to talking about cash burn and the need to raise capital, as it is now highly unlikely that the company will be cash-flow positive anytime this year. Something needs to change to prevent this ship from sinking.”

The company and its plant-based peers are struggling with declining sales — the products are often more expensive than the meat they’re made to imitate and many shoppers haven’t returned to them after an initial wave of curiosity. Questions have surged about the products’ taste, texture and health benefits.

Chief Executive Officer Ethan Brown said Beyond Meat expects modest sales growth in the third and fourth quarters from a year earlier. In a call with analysts, he said that recent heat waves reinforce the need to reduce greenhouse gases, adding that broad consumption of plant-based meat is inevitable.

He recognized it’s an uphill battle, however. “What we initially thought was going to be a quicker pace to mainstream adoption has proven to be slower,” he said.

Brown also said the company’s long-term plans should remain in place in spite of its struggles. Credit Suisse analyst Robert Moskow asked on Monday’s conference call if a “shrinking-to-win” strategy might be appropriate, with a target of being a business that generates $250 million to $350 million in annual sales. Brown said he disagreed “rigorously with that future.”

He pointed to a new launch with McDonald’s in Malta, as well as strength in Germany, as an indication that the company is gaining traction, along with trends among younger Americans. “The arc of history is very much on the side of what we’re trying to accomplish,” he said.

Weakness in the US, however, remains a thorny challenge for both Beyond Meat and its peers. By volume, sales of refrigerated meat alternatives slid 22% in the 52 weeks ending July 16 from the same period a year earlier, according to market-data tracker Circana. Frozen meat alternatives fell 10% by the same measure.

Beyond Meat’s second-quarter sales fell in both retail and foodservice, despite some increased discounts and less product being sent to liquidation. The company cited “weak overall demand” for the drop in foodservice sales.

International sales remained a bright spot, outpacing analysts’ estimates. International foodservice posted a 19% increase in volume of products sold, thanks to fast-food customers in Europe, the company said.

“We still expect further downside near-term, and recognize there are many fundamental challenges that are not quickly fixed,” wrote Michael Lavery, an analyst with Piper Sandler.

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