Dole Foods: Turning A Profitable Corner

| About: Dole Food (DOLE)

One of the easiest ways to make money is troll the list of 52-week lows and poke around for bargains and turnarounds.

One such issue I found this week is Dole Foods (NYSE:DOLE).

Dole is a name you know. You wake up to it (or your kids do) every January at the Rose Parade. (Their float won again.) It's a popular brand at your grocery store. And it's a brand that's been around a long, long time - the original James Dole was a Hawaiian plantation owner who founded his company in 1851.

These days the Dole equity is in Murdock hands. Murdock with a K. Specifically, David Murdock, 86 and shooting for 125, along with David DeLorenzo, who came back for big bucks in 2007. The future, David's son Justin, left for biotech start-up NovaRX a year ago, although he's still listed as an executive and director at the Dole Web site. (OK, they need a webmaster too.)

Dole's failure to find profit in its most recently-reported October quarter did not go unheeded by management. The response has been to reduce exposure to Europe and buy a U.S.-based fresh fruit producer, Sunnyridge Farms.

These moves have analysts high on the stock. If you like and believe analysts, they have this selling for 50% more in a year. They see last quarter as a one-time thing, and their expected earnings for the coming year would give DOLE a bargain PE of 6.7 at current prices. That's still below the multiple currently held by rival Chiquita (NYSE:CQB).

Murdock's board, beyond family and loyalists, is filled with Washington and Hollywood insiders, including former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao (Gramm), former studio head Sherry Lansing, and former WellPoint director David Weinberg. They're not asleep, although it would be nice if they could find someone closer to Justin's age who knows marketing and cares about fruit.

Smells like a bargain. A well-known brand, selling at a cut-rate price, with veteran owners who know their way around a dollar. Institutions hold half the shares. Folks like you hold the other half.

Want a bite?

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.