Beyond Meat shares fall 19% amid slowing veggie burgers demand

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Shares of Beyond Meat slumped as much as 19 percent Friday after the faux meat maker signaled slowing demand at restaurants and grocers with a weak sales forecast, raising questions on whether its business is nearing saturation.

Sales of its plant-based meat fell at several fast-food chains in the third quarter, when the country was in the grip of the Delta COVID-19 variant and restaurants were cutting hours and trimming menus to battle a labor shortage.

At least seven brokerages cut their price targets on the stock, with several analysts expecting the company to continue facing a slowdown. 

The stock dropped 19 percent Friday morning to $76.77. It rebounded to $81.45 by early afternoon, but was still down some 14 percent from Thursday’s close.

Beyond Meat on Wednesday forecast current-quarter revenue of $85 million to $110 million, well below estimates of $131.6 million.

“We view the results as further evidence that Beyond’s business is reaching market saturation faster than expected and that the company has deeper problems that won’t be easy to fix,” Credit Suisse analyst Robert Moskow said.

“Consumer interest in Beyond is simply reaching a peak.”

Various faux meat products from Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat and Lightlife are seen displayed on refrigerated shelves at a grocery store
Competition from other players in the faux meat market like Impossible Foods has contributed to a slowdown in growth for Beyond Meat.
AFP via Getty Images

Three years back Beyond Meat’s sales growth and stock were on a tear, as popular fast-food chains, including Tim Hortons and Yum Brands’ KFC, and several retailers tied up with the company to sell its products.

That blistering pace of growth, however, has hit a speed bump, with the pandemic and the entry of newer players such as Impossible Foods into the market. Its stock is also down 24 percent for the year.

“With increased competition over the past two years, we’re seeing, as expected, some impact on our market share,” CEO Ethan Brown said on an earnings call.

Ethan Brown speaking at a podium labeled Nasdaq with Beyond Meat signage in the background above
Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown said the COVID-19 pandemic has customers reluctant to try new foods like his company’s faux meat offerings.
Getty Images

He also said customers seemed less likely to try out newer products during the pandemic.

“Given the drop in revenues in Q3, a still-pressured Q4, revenue growth uncertainty in the near-term and into 2022 increases,” Jefferies analyst Rob Dickerson said.

“This was the quarter that likely broke the camel’s back.”

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