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Hormel Foods: well-positioned company in food sector

I'd like to draw investors' attention to Hormel Foods, a multinational manufacturer and marketer of consumer-branded food and meat products. The company’s financials for its fiscal 2015 third quarter were decent. Revenues decreased 4% due to the avian influenza outbreak that posed several supply-chain challenges, and stronger dollar. However, operating margin expanded 120 basis points, and adjusted earnings per share jumped 10% and slightly surpassed analysts’ average projection. Based on these factors, Hormel Foods' management raised its guidance for full fiscal year 2015 earnings per share to a range of $2.57-2.63 from the previous projection of $2.50-2.60.

Hormel Foods follows an innovation-based growth strategy, under which it invests considerable amount of money to develop a non-imitable product portfolio. Favorable input pricing and strategic cost-saving programs support the company’s widening margins. Going forward too, we expect such strategies to successfully enhance the company's top- and bottom-line figures.

Furthermore, Hormel Foods attempts to enhance the popularity of its products through variable marketing programs; while making constant efforts to expand its operational scale via several inorganic growth programs. In July, Hormel Foods finalized the acquisition of Applegate, which should expand the company’s offerings in the high-growth natural and organic meat category.

At the same time, the company’s commitment toward augmenting its shareholders’ wealth continues to boost its brand status in the market. Hormel Foods has boosted its dividend 49 years in a row, and the most recent hike occured in February - by 5 cents, or 25%, to 25 cents a share. Its long-term dividend growth rate is a robust 18%.

So, I view Hormel Foods as a well-positioned company in the food sector with a strong portfolio of brands, consistent earnings growth, strong cash flow and a solid balance sheet. The company's stock, I believe, looks nice for medium-term investment.