Sysco yo-yos after earnings

Sysco Corp. brand styrofoam cups sit stacked in a warehouse at the company's distribution center in Concord, North Carolina.
Luke Sharrett | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Sysco Corp. brand styrofoam cups sit stacked in a warehouse at the company's distribution center in Concord, North Carolina.

Shares of Sysco failed to hold all-time highs Monday after reporting earnings and its view on the impact of the U.K. vote to leave the European Union.

The food marketer and distributor recently agreed to acquire the U.K.-based food distributor Brakes in a transaction valued about $3.1 billion. Amid the uncertainty around the implications of Brexit, "we've seen some softening there in that market," CEO Bill DeLaney said in a Dow Jones report late Monday morning.

Sysco closed 3 cents lower at $52.18 a share. Earlier, the stock spiked more than 3 percent to hit $53.97, its highest going back to its initial public offering in 1970 after reporting earnings that topped expectations.

Sysco 10-year performance

Wells Fargo Securities Senior Analyst Zachary Fadem said despite some short-term industry softness, "I don't think that takes away from profitability gains and accretion in M&A going forward." Fadem has an "outperform" rating on the stock.

Sysco reported fiscal fourth-quarter adjusted earnings of 64 cents a share versus expectations of 61 cents a share. Revenue rose 10 percent from the same period last year to $13.6 billion, a touch below expectations of $13.68 billion.

"I am very pleased with our performance during fiscal 2016, as we made significant progress toward our three-year plan financial objectives," DeLaney said in the earnings release. "During the year, we had strong local case growth, improved our gross profit, managed expenses well and drove increased operating income."

Sales were helped by a 10.1 percent increase in total broadline case growth, while acquisitions completed in the last 12 months increased sales by 1.2 percent. Foreign exchange rates decreased sales by half a percent.

Overall food cost deflation was 1.2 percent, primarily due to lower prices for meat and dairy products.

Gross margin increased 44 basis points to 18.3 percent and gross profit rose 12.7 percent to $2.5 billion.

"The environment remains sluggish and intensely competitive but Sysco has continued to generate growth despite these headwinds," said Erin Lash of Morningstar, which has a "hold" on the stock."

However, she said high valuation "suggests investors wait until a more attractive level."

The forward price-to-earnings ratio is 22.6 versus 17.5 for the S&P 500, according to FactSet. The stock has gained nearly 30 percent for the year so far, making it the second-best performer in the S&P 500 consumer staples sector.

Separately, a Friday SEC filing showed that as of June 30, activist investor Nelson Peltz's Trian Fund Management increased its stake in Sysco to 7.8 percent, making it the top investor in the company.