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Beyond Meat, the food company behind the meatless Beyond Burger, is set to debut on the public market this week. CNBC's Jim Cramer said Wednesday the stock is worth buying — at or below $35 per share.
The plant-based meat maker priced its shares at $25, at the top end of its stated range of $23 to $25. The stock could surge to $30 once it starts trading, and investors should be cautious if it climbs above $35, he said.
"I think this is exactly the kind of growth story that the stock market tends to adore — in a year that's already been chock-full of IPOs, Beyond Meat is the fastest grower among them," the "Mad Money" host said. "I doubt it will be another Lyft, where the revenue growth was already decelerating by the time the company came public. "
The company reported a net loss of $29.9 million on revenue of $87.9 million for 2018.
Since its founding in 2009, Beyond Meat has become one of the fastest-growing food producers in the country on the back of a "brilliant concept," Cramer said. The company's sales just about tripled year-over-year in the first quarter, which followed 170% growth in 2018 and 101% in 2017, he noted. Revenue grew 200% in the first quarter from the year-ago period, powered by new deals with Carl's Jr., TGI Friday's, and A&W Canada chains, he added.
Beyond Meat has yet to turn a profit and likely will not have positive earnings in the near future, Cramer said. But gross margin tells a more promising story. The company posted 20% gross margin in 2018, up from a negative margin in 2017. For the first quarter of 2019, gross margin came in at 25.6%.
"Honestly, I really don't want Beyond Meat to be profitable at this early stage in their life cycle. They should be spending money like crazy to build out their production and distribution and innovation to fend off enemies," Cramer said. "However, because the company's sales keep growing, their margins are headed in the right direction."
On top of that, the balance sheet is "solid," he added. The IPO raised roughly $240 million.
Competition could be a headwind for Beyond Meat. Burger King, which is owned by Restaurant Brands International, carries Impossible Food's vegetarian Impossible Burger, which is said to be a better-tasting beef alternative than the Beyond Burger, Cramer said. Reports suggest Burger King is selling out of the vegetarian selection, but there is more than enough room for two players in the plant-based food industry, he said.
Beyond Meat products are carried in 17,000 grocery stores — including Amazon's Whole Foods, Target and Kroger — and 12,000 eateries, Cramer said. The company has also launched pork sausage substitutes and is working on a chicken alternative.
"At the midpoint of its current price range, Beyond Meat's going to be very expensive — it's already trading at 17-times last year's sales. Not earnings, sales," he said. "Of course, [if] they can keep growing at a 200% clip this year, then the stock is trading at less than 6-times 2019 sales [estimates]. So I can get that."
WATCH: Cramer reviews the Beyond Meat IPO