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In the middle of a down market Tuesday, one stock stood out: Investors were going wild for shares in Beyond Meat, a maker of "alternative proteins" or plant-based meat products now sold at Whole Foods, Safeway and featured on the menus of Carl's Jr., Del Taco, and TGI Friday's, among others.
Shares in Beyond Meat closed up nearly 6% after earlier surging more than 14% on a rough day that saw the S&P 500 end down more than 1.5%. The spike followed a buy rating initiated by Bernstein, which set a price target around $81. The stock is currently trading around that price.
Bernstein analyst Alexia Howard noted that the newly public company faces some competition in Impossible Burger (which is making a new, vegetarian Whopper for Burger King) and forthcoming products planned by Nestle and Tyson. But the fact that Beyond Meat has already mastered mass manufacturing of its non-GMO, plant-based products gives the Southern California company an edge.
Alternative protein products, which are generally higher priced than their traditional counterparts at major restaurant chains today, may become more appealing budget-wise in the near future, due to global food safety concerns.
Howard wrote in a note on Tuesday:
"The African Swine Fever situation in China could drive global meat prices up sharply, across pork, beef and chicken. As this price escalation plays out, it seems likely that the relative price of plant-based burgers will start to look relatively less expensive, which could also boost demand over the next couple of years."
Beyond Meat priced its initial public offering at $25 a share on Wednesday, and raised at least $240 million at an initial valuation slightly shy of $1.5 billion. The company has notched the best IPO performance of 2019 to date, with shares up more than 220%.