Bridgford Foods: Hungry Shareholders Satisfied

| About: Bridgford Foods (BRID)

You can’t say BRID shareholders went hungry in 2009. The company delivered phenomenal results and the market rewarded its shares with a vigorous markup. Although the bulk of the gains are probably behind this closely held snack maker, (its float is only 1 million shares) it is certainly worth a second look , especially for those investors who want to sleep at night yet still obtain a reasonable return.

Fiscal 2009 is in the record books: Earnings were 72 cents versus a loss of $1.30. Sales increased 1.4% from $121 million to $122.6 million and although the sales increase was slight, it is worth noting that it was attributable to higher unit volumes, rather than price increases.

The company’s gross profit margin blossomed 25% from 33.6% to 42%, thanks to lower commodity costs. Management also did well paring expenses, as its SG&A category fell 170 basis points from 35.7% to 34%. On a sequential basis, the company’s 4th quarter really leaped off the page. Sales expectations of $37 million and earnings of 18 cents were easily surpassed. Earnings advanced 118%, from 11 cents to 28 cents ,while revenues jumped nearly 50% from $26.2 million to $39.5 million versus the third quarter.

The balance sheet remains squeaky clean: The company’s cash hoard more than doubled from $6.1 million to $13.9 million, despite paying nearly $1 million in cash dividends and repurchasing $638,000 worth of shares in the open market. BRID is also proud of the fact that it has been free of debt for 23 consecutive years and owns eight “state of the art” processing plants, as well as its corporate headquarters’ facility.

What’s ahead? Good things, according to Chairman Bill Bridgford Jr.

2009 was one of our best years ever and we intend to build on its successes by staying innovative, providing the highest quality products and always keeping the customer first.

With a trailing P/E multiple of only 14 times earnings, BRID is cheaper than its food peer group P/E average of 16. If the company is able grow its earnings in 2010 by 20% (to 86 cents), it just might be rewarded with a P/E expansion that is more in line with its competitors, and if you do the math, the calculation (16 P/E X .86 est. eps) translates into a $13.75 share price.

Disclosure: long