Meat producer Cranswick surged to an all-time high this week on soaring first quarter sales, but shares eased back downwards through the week as worries surfaced around its ability to maintain this stellar growth.
On Monday, Cranswick hiked its outlook for 2020 as lockdown demand and stockpiling drove revenues up 24.8% in the 13 weeks to 27 June.
The pig and chicken producer said retail demand in the quarter had been “exceptionally robust” thanks to the current shift towards greater in-home consumption, leading to like-for-like growth of 19.2% excluding the contribution from acquisitions made in 2019.
Poultry sales at the business’ new Eye facility in Suffolk, alongside the boost in demand, “comfortably” offset lower foodservice revenue.
Cranswick added the positive performance had continued during the second quarter but cautioned that retail volumes would normalise through the remainder of the year as consumers gradually returned to dining out.
As a result of the strong trading, the company said the outlook for the current financial year ending 27 March 2021 was now forecast to be ahead of its previous expectations.
Its shares jumped to an all-time high of 4,126p on Monday, ending the day up 6.6% at 4,076p. However, by Thursday the shares had fallen back to 3,753p and down on their price before the markets opened on Monday.
Analysts at Barclays cautioned that it expected Cranswick’s growth to decelerate and margins to moderate, given consumer shifts from premium products to value as the economy enters recession, a normalisation of pork prices and rising labour inflation. “Given this backdrop, we do not see how Cranswick can recover costs from consumers who are unlikely to accept price increases and retailers who will be looking to recover their own higher costs,” the broker added.
Similarly, Jefferies commented: “The strong start to the year has led forecast upgrades that have rapidly been more than reflected in the share price… Tougher second half comps allied to uncertainties around China exports and the duration of UK uplifts, make us wary of chasing the shares above £40.”
Despite the share price falling back this week, the shares remain 44% up year on year and up by more than 10% so far in 2020.