Is Tyson Undervalued After its Earnings Blowout or is Campbell or Smucker's Better?

This has been a good week for Tyson Foods . After reporting earnings that exceeded analyst expectations on Monday, shares of the chicken, beef and pork provider rose more than 7.4% when compared to last Friday. However, with its earnings beat and subsequent rise in share price, is Tyson overvalued or is there still room to run? To assess this, I looked at Tyson's financial results this past quarter and compared it to two other specialty food providers that reported this week; Campbell Soup Company and The J.M. Smucker Company .

Revenue was strong
For the quarter, Tyson exceeded analyst expectations on earnings per share and fell in line with revenue expectations. Revenue grew by nearly 7%, from $8.32 billion in the fourth quarter last year to $8.89 billion this year. Each of the company's four core segments grew in terms of revenue year-over-year, but the bulk of the growth took place in its Beef and Prepared Foods segments.

Compared to the fourth quarter a year ago, the company saw its Beef segment grow by 9.1% as volume rose by 4.1% and prices rose by 4.8%. Currently, this segment is the company's largest and makes up 41.2% of consolidated sales, down from 41.3% of sales this time last year. Tyson's Prepared Foods segment performed even better, with sales rising by 9.4% as volume rose 5.2% and volume rose 3.9%. This segment is the smallest of the business's core operations at 9.9% of sales as of this quarter, but up from the 9.7% of sales it comprised last year.

In juxtaposition, Campbell's saw a reversal in revenue for the quarter. Consolidated sales fell 1.8%, primarily driven by an 8% decline in its U.S. Beverages segment. According to the company's earnings release, its U.S. Beverages segment fell as a result of a substantial decline in its V8 products. Smucker's also saw a substantial decline in revenue, which fell by 4.2% for the quarter. The company attributed the decline to a reduction in sales prices, primarily in its coffee and peanut butter products.

As was earnings!
Looking at earnings, we see that Tyson topped analyst estimates by a penny at $0.70 per share. In addition to benefiting from higher revenue, the company saw its cost of goods sold decline from 92.9% of sales to 92.5%. This was partially offset by 7 million additional shares outstanding, without which its earnings per share would have come in at $0.72.

In comparison, Campbell's saw its earnings per share decline by 29.5% from $0.78 to $0.55. While lower revenue played a large role in the drop, so too did its cost of goods sold and marketing and selling expenses. For the quarter, the company saw its cost of goods sold rise from 62.8% of sales to 64.1%, while marketing and selling expenses rose from 10.7% of sales to 12.1%. Both increases appear to be driven partially by the company's inability to effectively control costs during a downturn. The same cannot be said for Smucker's.

During the quarter, Smucker's reported that, while its revenue declined, its earnings per share rose by 7.4% from $1.36 per share to $1.46. The improvement was due to increased margins in its U.S. Retail Coffee segment, which saw its profit margin rise from 25.4% of sales to 30.3%. However, the company's two other segments saw their margins decline.

Foolish takeaway
After having looked at each of the three entities, it's not challenging to say that Tyson was the most impressive this week. Not only did sales rise, but so too did its earnings per share. On the other hand, revenue for both Campbell's and Smucker's declined, but investors in Smucker's have at least one consolation prize in that it was able to increase its bottom line in spite of a revenue shortfall.

Moving forward, it's very possible that Tyson will continue to grow faster than what Mr. Market expects. This, in turn, should appeal to the Foolish investor who wants a stable company that is experiencing an attractive growth spurt. However, there are merits in both Campbell's and Smucker's as well. Both are established, long-standing companies working in a business that is unlikely to go anywhere anytime soon. With this logic in mind, it shouldn't be out of the question to expect business to improve eventually and shares to rise accordingly. By grabbing a piece of these two, it might be possible to buy two amazing American companies at a discount to what they may trade at in the future.

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Daniel Jones has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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