Beyond Meat (NASDAQ: BYND) announced on Oct. 14 it was slashing about one-fifth of its workforce as inflation takes a bite out of sales, leading the plant-based meat company to reduce its full-year revenue outlook. Despite cutting costs to the bone, it's increasingly difficult to see how Beyond Meat can break out of this rut.
The company maintains it is on track to save $39 million over the next year and turn cash-flow positive by the second half of 2023, but as consumers are pinched by rising costs, they're not finding faux meat products to be a worthwhile option.
Inflation takes a bite out of business
Inflation is taking its toll on the business. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that while the Consumer Price Index was up 8.2% year over year in September, the food-at-home category surged 13.0% in the month as cereal and bakery products bolted 16.2% higher; dairy jumped 15.9%; and meat, poultry, fish, and eggs were up 9.0% from the year-ago period. The decline in gas prices for the month also could not come close to ameliorating the fact the price at the pump remains almost 20% higher than it was last year.
Beyond Meat said in a statement that inflation is the "factor exerting pressure on the [plant-based meat] category as consumers trade down into cheaper forms of protein, including animal meat." That likely was the reason why distributors and retailers selling its products allowed their inventories to fall while canceling promotions for the products, not to mention the increased competition Beyond Meat is seeing in the meat aisle. Management is expecting a big hit to margins as a result.
Retail sales account for 70% of total revenue, but U.S. foodservice sales were down in the fiscal second quarter as well, and the partnership with McDonald's for the McPlant sandwich didn't last.
Reduce costs by any means
To conserve cash, the plant-based meat company is firing approximately 200 employees from its global workforce, or about 19% of the total, forcing it to take a $4 million charge. As sales fall, though, Beyond Meat forecasts fiscal third-quarter and full-year 2022 revenue will now be much less than it previously thought.
For the third quarter, management is guiding for $82 million of revenue, a 23% year-over-year decline, while the full year will only see revenue of $400 million to $425 million, a far cry from the $470 million to $520 million range the company previously provided. That would represent the company's first-ever drop in annual sales.
Cutting costs is essential for Beyond Meat at this point. Year-to-date total revenue of $256.5 million is essentially flat from last year, but operating expenses are up 47% to $181.3 million. The top line weakness has extended overseas, which is also wracked by inflationary pressures, worse even than what the U.S. is experiencing in many cases.
The problem is Beyond Meat has long struggled with profitability, and its net losses are spiraling out of control -- quadrupling to $197.6 million through the first half of fiscal 2022 -- as revenue declines. New initiatives have also failed to take off. The partnership with PepsiCo that introduced Beyond Meat Jerky earlier this year actually resulted in gross profit losses of $7.7 million for the fiscal second quarter.
Meanwhile, the company is burning through cash and reported $454.7 million in cash and equivalents on its balance sheet as of July 2, down from $733.3 million at the start of the year. With $1.1 billion in debt, it's clear the cost-cutting measures are necessary.
A faux discount
Even though the stock has fallen over 90% since hitting a pandemic high of about $200 in mid-2020, the stock could go even lower than its current $13 per share if current trends continue.
And trading at 1.7 times trailing-12-month sales, the faux meat company's discount to the broad market isn't enough to make up for the risks that come with a business facing this much uncertainty. Investors should stay away from Beyond Meat stock.
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