Chiquita Brands Is Appealing, Just Be Careful Not To Slip

| About: Chiquita Brands (CQB)

I added Chiquita Brands Incorporated (NYSE:CQB) to my portfolio on Jan 25th, 2007 at a price of $15.66 per share driven by the risk/reward proposition at these price levels.

Here are the main reasons I like to stock, in order of significance:

  • Employing acquisition strategy to diversify product portfolio into high profit margin businesses
  • Free cash flow yield of 10.8% on a trailing twelve month basis for 2006, and 20.1% in 2005
  • Cash per share of $2.46 or 15.5% of current market cap
  • Price to Book Value of 0.6 times
  • Well recognized brand equity and quality
  • Spinach scare puts equity into an oversold position
  • Keep a close eye on these items that might make you slip on their peel:

  • The dividend has just been cut to pay down some of the current debt
  • A few legal proceedings involving management and the federal agencies
  • Atlanta AG goodwill analysis not yet finalized
  • Continued weakness in bananas segment due to EU Regime law of banana imports

  • Company Overview

    Chiquita Brands International, Inc. and its subsidiaries operate as a leading international marketer and distributor of bananas and other fresh produce sold under the “Chiquita” and other brand names in approximately 70 countries and packaged salads sold under the “Fresh Express” brand primarily in the United States. The company also distributes and markets fresh-cut fruit and other branded, value-added fruit products. The company produces approximately 30% of the bananas it markets on its own farms, and purchases the remainder of the bananas, all of the lettuce and substantially all of the other fresh produce from third-party suppliers throughout the world.

    5 Year Financial Trends

    For the 5 year period of 2002 to 2006 [TTM], CQB has achieved a revenue compounded growth rates of 21.5%, with annual growth in double digits for the last 4 years. Net Income growth has not been as consistent as the topline, going from a loss of $(384) million in 2002 to a profit of $23.7 million in 2006 [TTM].

    CQB 5 year financial summary

    Stock performance

    If you invested $10,000 on Jan 2nd, 2002 in CQB common stock, your portfolio balance would be worth $15,946 or an 8.1% annual return, ~2.1x higher than the S&P 500 of 3.8%. The equity has achieved most of the increase in 2002 and 2003, booking a negative return from 2003-2007 YTD.

    CQB Stock Performance

    Value scorecard

    CQB has an average value scorecard capturing a passing mark on 4 of the 8 indicators. The strongest of the passing grades is within the free cash flow yield section, coming in at 10.8%. Of the 4 failing marks; Section F. (Liabilities to Book value) and Section B. (Annual Net Income Growth) are the sections that I am slightly concerned with.... I will be monitoring this stock very closely.

    CQB Value scorecard

    Growth Potential

    My current valuation model is resulting with the common equity of CQB to be valued at a market cap of $891 Million or $21.56 per share.

    Here are my assumptions:

    - Sales Forecast with a 2006-2011 CAGR of 5.0%/
    - WACC of 6.1%
    - Perpetuity Rate of 0%
    - Free Cash Flow as a % to Sales of 2%
    - Cash of $101.6 Million from Q3 2006
    - Total Debt of $978.0 Million

    Here is the sensitivity chart on annual sales increase per year vs. the FCF% to NTS:
    CQB Sales Growth Increase
    Disclosure: Author currently owns shares of CQB.