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The Best Bets on Football Foods: Pros

Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers

As the National Football League kicks off its season, America’s love of all things football could have a halo effect on the stocks of certain grocers and beverage makers, analysts told CNBC Tuesday.

The presence of pigskin on any given Sunday means hungry football fans aren’t far behind. Although the economy is softening and unemployment is still high, analysts say that at least a few companies specializing in salty foods and fizzy drinks could see a bump in sales.

“As far as football season goes, it’s really about getting into the fall and winter, and the key holiday shopping season that tends to be key execution time for the grocers,” Jonathan Feeney, Janney Montgomery Scott senior analyst, told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.” He likes Kroger and ConAgra, among others.

Bill Schmitz, a senior analyst Deutsche Bank, downplayed the seasonal effect football has on snacks and munchies. He noted that the price of commodities would be a bigger factor for some consumers, helping to drive up the costs of certain goods, while others get used as replacement items.

“Thankfully, they’re not buying any chicken, Coke, or Pepsi, so there's a little bit of an offset right now,” Schmitz said, citing the names of companies and goods that might be negatively impacted by a rise in commodities and raw materials.

Nonetheless, the Deutsche Bank analyst holds “buy” recommendations on both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, mentioning fundamental factors working in favor of the latter.

“There’s been a terrific change of heart at Pepsi,” Schmitz said, citing a ramp-up in advertising buys and a $2.3 billion promotion deal the company recently signed with the NFL. “The good dynamic here on the beverage side is guys are kind of getting along and playing nicely for the first time in a while. I think they want to make more money.”

Regardless of how football-related sales turn out, surging corn prices — fueled by the drought that ravaged crops across the U.S. this summer — could come back to haunt some companies, the analysts said.

“Corn in the whole grain complex is up about 40 percent,” Feeney said, noting that made him cautious on chili giant Hormel. “That kind of whip-around is hard on a company and could pressure earnings where volumes are not up to snuff. I think that's true of other food package companies as well.”

—By CNBC.com’s Javier E. David

Additional News: Most Expensive NFL Tickets 2012

Additional Views: Stocking ‘Man Caves’ for NFL Games: Pepsi CEO

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Disclosures:

Deutsche Bank owns Coca-Cola stock, and conducts investment banking for them. Janney Montgomery Scott makes markets in the stock of Kroger's.

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