Here's Why Middleby Stock Sank 49% in March

What happened

Shares of food-equipment company Middleby (NASDAQ: MIDD) fell 49.1% in March, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence. The fall marks a miserable month for food-equipment companies, as well as other businesses with exposure to the foodservice industry.

The chart below shows the decline in Middleby's stock in 2020 alongside two of its food-equipment technology peers, Welbilt and John Bean Technologies. It's been a brutal decline in 2020, and investors don't have to look far to see the reason why.

MIDD Chart

MIDD data by YCharts.

The big move down happened when it became clear that the COVID-19 outbreak was going international from its birthplace in China to create a pandemic around the globe. As such, the social isolation measures necessary to contain the virus are hitting the restaurant and foodservice industry very hard. And if Middleby's customers -- which include the likes of Papa John's, McDonalds, and Burger King, to name a few -- are suffering, Middleby is, as well.

So what

The disappointment in 2020 follows after a difficult year in 2019, and there are many questions around the medium-term outlook for the company. For example, while the impact of the coronavirus is likely to be heavy in the near term, it's far from clear that customers will be interested to return to foodservice outlets for an extended period of time, even after the COVID-19 pandemic is contained.

Silver and red kitchen equipment labeled MagiKitch'n.

Image source: Middleby.

Moreover, the longer that consumers are eating at home, the more likely it is that there might be some sort of structural shift for a preference toward eating at home rather than dining out -- the last thing Middleby wants to happen.

These questions are particularly significant for Middleby because it's a company that's been been built on a string of acquisitions. It's a great strategy when its end markets are in growth mode but problematic if they start to decline. Indeed, even though Middelby's reported sales increased 8.7% in 2019, they only increased 0.1% after adjusting for acquisitions, foreign exchange, and business closures. Clearly, Middleby didn't enter 2020 with any great sales momentum, anyway.

Now what

As with much of the market, Middleby investors will have to wait and see how long the containment measures will be in place, and then hope that its end markets normalize, with some improvement in its organic growth. Patience is required. 

10 stocks we like better than Middleby
When investing geniuses David and Tom Gardner have a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the market.*

David and Tom just revealed what they believe are the ten best stocks for investors to buy right now... and Middleby wasn't one of them! That's right -- they think these 10 stocks are even better buys.

See the 10 stocks


*Stock Advisor returns as of March 18, 2020


Selim Bassoul, former CEO, chairman, and president of Middleby, serves as Chief Innovator at The Motley Fool. Lee Samaha has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Middleby. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


More Related Articles

Sign up for Smart Investing to get the latest news, strategies and tips to help you invest smarter.