Stocks to buy

Aside from inflation and military conflict, one of the most-discussed topics centers on global food shortages, thus cynically incentivizing food stocks to buy. Predominantly, Russia’s unjustified invasion of Ukraine dramatically disrupted critical supply chains, resulting in price escalation. In turn, crises throughout the world may turn worryingly volatile as desperate nations become even more so.

To be sure, acquiring food stocks to buy won’t solve any of the root problems associated with sector shortages. However, it appears almost inevitable that food prices – along with associated value chains – will swing higher. Therefore, moving ahead of this wave could shield your portfolio from subsequent inflation. Finally, enterprises linked to necessary resources enjoy established frameworks. No, they’re not particularly exciting but they get the job done. And that’s really all you can ask for during these trying times. With that, below are the food stocks to buy as shortages hit consumers.

LW Lamb Weston $101.23
KR Kroger $46.78
TWNK Hostess Brands $24.12
COST Costco $487.62
MDLZ Mondelez $64.49
NOMD Nomad Foods $17.35
FREE Whole Earth Brands $2.98

Lamb Weston (LW)

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A food processing firm, Lamb Weston (NYSE:LW) is one of the world’s largest producers of frozen French fries, waffle fries, and other frozen potato products. Fundamentally, Lamb Weston attracts investors because as inflation hits consumers, they’ll likely look for cheaper sources of nourishment. Potatoes can fill up a hungry stomach, making LW an intriguing prospect for food stocks to buy.

It appears that investors have taken note. Since the start of the year, LW gained nearly 17% of its equity value. And in the trailing year, shares nearly doubled. On paper, then, LW appears to be overvalued, both against trailing and forward earnings. As well, investment resource Gurufocus.com warns readers that it might be modestly overvalued.

That said, Lamb Weston enjoys strong profitability metrics. In particular, its net margin stands at 10.5%, outpacing 80.46% of the industry. Finally, Wall Street analysts peg LW as a consensus strong buy. Their average price target stands at $111, implying nearly 9% upside potential.

Kroger (KR)

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A favorite topic when it comes to food stocks to buy, Kroger (NYSE:KR) brings much fundamental (i.e. narrative) value to the table. Primarily, Kroger – which operates supermarkets and multi-department stores – benefits from the trade-down effect. Basically, consumers will trade down from eating out at fine-dining establishments to cooking at home. Naturally, this benefits KR stock.

Not surprisingly, after some choppiness in recent months, the bulls have entered the space. Since the January opener, KR gained 4.5% of its equity value. Financially as well, Kroger offers an attractive profile. Mainly, the market prices KR at a forward multiple of 11.02. As a discount to earnings, the company ranks better than 83.61% of the competition.

Operationally, Kroger enjoys a decent sales trajectory, with a three-year revenue growth rate of 6.4%. This stat ranks above nearly 60% of its rivals. Also, it enjoys a return on equity (ROE) of 24.57%, indicating a high-quality business.

Presently, Wall Street analysts peg KR as a consensus hold. Nevertheless, their average price target stands at $52.07, implying 12% upside potential. Therefore, it’s one of the food stocks to buy.

Hostess Brands (TWNK)

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At first glance, the inclusion of Hostess Brands (NASDAQ:TWNK) – the owner of the Twinkies brand – on a list of food stocks to buy might seem odd. However, it makes perfect sense on many levels. First and foremost, Twinkies offer cheap sustenance (I didn’t say they were healthy, to be clear). And second, they represent comfort food.

Indeed, Hostess’ leadership team noted that millennials turn to Twinkies to help manage their stress. Sure enough, investors have taken notice of the upside opportunity. Since the start of the year, TWNK gained slightly over 9% of equity value. In the past 365 days, it returned 11%.

Financially, given the recent momentum, TWNK might be a tad bit overvalued against trailing earnings. That said, it delivers solid operational strengths. For instance, Hostess’ three-year EBITDA growth rate stands at 28.3%, outpacing 80% of its peers. And its net margin dominates at 12.09%, above 84% of the industry. Lastly, Wall Street analysts peg TWNK as a consensus moderate buy. In addition, their average price target stands at $27.40, implying nearly 13% upside potential.

Costco (COST)

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Specializing in open-warehouse style membership-only retailers, Costco (NASDAQ:COST) isn’t a direct player among food stocks to buy. Nevertheless, it plays a significant role in the consumer economy as households adjust to higher prices. Essentially, Costco incentivizes purchasing products in bulk, one of the best ways to mitigate accelerating inflation.

Additionally, Costco caters to a wealthier customer base. Because of the implied economic insulation, investors started to eyeball COST stock. Since the Jan. opener, shares bounced up almost 7%. However, it’s down nearly 9% in the trailing year, presenting a relative discount.

Financially, COST appears to be overpriced at the moment, thus requiring patience. Still, Costco enjoys a robust balance sheet. As well, it benefits from significant operational strengths. For example, its three-year revenue growth rate stands at 14%, above 84.51% of the competition. Also, its book growth rate during the same period is 10.4%, outpacing 66.79% of the field.

Turning to Wall Street, analysts peg COST as a consensus moderate buy. Further, their average price target stands at $552.76, implying over 14% upside potential.

Mondelez International (MDLZ)

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A multinational food company, Mondelez International (NASDAQ:MDLZ) mainly specializes in confectionaries. Here, the company may benefit from the trade-down effect. As inflation crimps the consumer economy, people may opt for cheaper fares (compared to patronizing coffee shops, for example). As well, Mondelez manufactures beverages and various snacks.

Overall, MDLZ has been a steady performer among food stocks to buy. Since the start of the new year, MDLZ slipped about 1%. However, in the past 365 days, MDLZ gained 5%. This actually compares very favorably to the S&P 500 index, which dipped almost 4% during the same period.

Operationally, Mondelez’s three-year revenue growth rate stands at 8.6%, above 64.86% of sector peers. Also, its net margin over the trailing year is 8.63%, ranked better than 76% of the competition. Looking to the Street, covering analysts peg MDLZ as a strong buy. Also, their average price target pings at $75.19, implying over 14% upside potential.

Nomad Foods (NOMD)

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Diving into the speculative portion of food stocks to buy, Nomad Foods (NYSE:NOMD) is a U.K.-headquartered frozen food company. Again, it’s quite possible that Nomad over the long run may benefit from the trade-down effect. Assuming economic conditions worsen, people will have less incentive to go out and eat/drink. Therefore, cheap frozen meals start to look rather enticing (again, not discussing the health component).

However, it’s a risky narrative. Since the Jan. opener, NOMD dipped a bit below parity. In the trailing year, shares plunged almost 18%. On the financials, Gurufocus.com warns that it’s a possible value trap. So, it’s only one of the food stocks to buy if you can stomach possible volatility.

Nevertheless, Nomad’s three-year revenue growth rate is 11.1%, above 71.17% of the industry. Further, its net margin comes in at 8.45%, above over 75% of the field. As well, the market prices NOMD at 11 times forward earnings, ranking better than 74.45% of its competitors. Finally, covering analysts peg NOMD as a consensus strong buy. Their average price target stands at $21.63, implying over 23% upside potential.

Whole Earth Brands (FREE)

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Billed as a global food company enabling healthier lifestyles, Whole Earth Brands (NASDAQ:FREE) fundamentally benefits from young consumers’ push toward healthier eating choices. Moreover, for those who have been spared the mass layoffs that have been occurring over the past year, Whole Earth offers premium nutrition while still enjoying a sizable discount compared to eating out.

However, it’s an incredibly risky narrative. Since the January opener, FREE plunged more than 25% in equity value. In the past 365 days, shares slipped almost 66%. Not shockingly, Gurufocus.com warns its readers that Whole Earth is a possible value trap.

Still, Whole Earth does feature some attractive figures. For instance, its three-year sales growth rate is 16.9%, above 83.26% of the competition. And for what it’s worth, the market prices FREE at a forward multiple of 7.63. In contrast, the sector median pings at 16.81. Lastly, Ryan Meyers of Lake Street assigned a buy rating on FREE with a price target of $8. This implies over 162% upside potential. If you can handle great risk in your food stocks to buy, FREE could be interesting.

On the date of publication, Josh Enomoto did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

A former senior business analyst for Sony Electronics, Josh Enomoto has helped broker major contracts with Fortune Global 500 companies. Over the past several years, he has delivered unique, critical insights for the investment markets, as well as various other industries including legal, construction management, and healthcare.

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