I keep getting distracted, so my annual checkup is taking a bit longer than usual this year. Now it's time to take a look at Middleby (NASDAQ:MIDD). This is a great company that was called to my attention by the Fool more than a year ago, and I've been holding shares for close to a year. It has quietly been a dramatic performer and risen much faster than I would have predicted. I wrote a while back about what the worldwide increase in pizza consumption means for Middleby, a commercial oven manufacturer, and that growth is continuing, as is the growth in MIDD's business, which has been nicely reflected in the stock price.
However, as I near the one year holding point and look at a stock that has grown significantly faster than I expected and has seen some dramatic multiple expansion, should I think about lightening my position? Given the performance of MIDD's CEO over the past two years, it's hard to give up any shares -- they have consistently increased earnings, increased efficiency, and handled some challenges very well (such as the rising steel prices). My position was picked up at an average price of just under $48, so I'm sitting on almost a 100% gain, and I wouldn't feel comfortable buying more Middleby at this point even though I think they'll continue to grow well -- I do fear that the growth will tail off a bit and the multiple ought to come back to earth as that happens. I plan to wait until their next earnings report before doing anything, so I'll take the chance that the price may dip if they report any disappointment, but I want to err on the side of caution in selling my MIDD shares because I hate to give up ownership in a company that is so well managed and so well positioned for the big global trend of chain restaurant growth. If it looks to me like the company is likely to have difficulty keeping up this growth over the next couple years when I hear from the CEO next month, I'll consider selling half of my position -- otherwise, this is a hold for me.