Avocado is a brunch staple, so why is grower Costa getting smashed?

Key figures: Interim chief government Harry Debney, chair Neil Chatfield.

The bull case: Whilst shoppers begin rethinking their spending habits with the rising value of residing, non-discretionary items like meals and contemporary produce will keep in demand. Roughly 70 per cent of Costa’s produce gross sales are made by way of its 4 largest clients – grocery store chains Woolworths, Coles, Aldi, and Metcash (IGA).

“Costa is the biggest participant in a extremely fragmented Australian contemporary produce market with an estimated share of greater than 15 per cent, and has a big share in some product classes, notably blueberries and raspberries at over 60 per cent,” wrote Morningstar analyst Angus Hewitt.

Funding and advisory agency Jarden, which has an ‘obese’ ranking on the corporate, described Costa as “one of many international leaders in produce”.

The corporate seems to be well-positioned for the quick time period by way of its worldwide enterprise (berry farms in Morocco and China), and Morningstar’s Hewitt expects Costa to retain its edge because the market chief.

”We count on Costa can outpace business development and seize market share, no less than within the close to time period,” he wrote in a word to shoppers. “We forecast Costa rising its Australian market share to round 20 per cent over the following 5 years, from 15 per cent at present.“

Extra just lately, information that former main investor, US non-public fairness agency Paine Schwartz, has snatched a 14 per cent stake with plans to extend this appears to have invigorated investor curiosity, resulting in an 11 per cent bounce within the firm’s share worth final Wednesday.


“Regardless of its [Costa Group] troubles and points, it’s actually exhibiting deep worth,” stated Tribeca Funding Companions lead portfolio supervisor Jun Bei Liu. “There’s numerous worth in Costa … it’s actually one for the strategic, longer-term traders.”

The bear case: Most gamers throughout the meals provide chain are dealing with tougher situations created by local weather change-fuelled excessive climate occasions.

This 12 months’s La Niña bruised Costa’s orange crop together with its share worth, which induced Morningstar to decrease its honest worth estimate of Costa’s shares by 9 per cent to $3.10 – although that is nonetheless nearly 20 per cent above the place the inventory is buying and selling in the intervening time.

“The most important danger in contemporary produce is fluctuations in climate and local weather. Climate situations are variable by nature,” wrote Hewitt, who additionally famous Costa faces dangers round its intensive useful resource use as power prices and water costs rise.

Jarden slashed its worth goal for Costa shares from $3.15 to $2.20 after the corporate’s current poor buying and selling replace. UBS has the identical 12-month worth goal of $2.20, down from $2.80, successfully predicting a greater than 20 per cent decline in market worth over the following 12 months.

“Whereas a big a part of the downgrade pertains to high quality and pricing points throughout citrus, points round pack-out charges, spraying and labour had been additionally prevalent, with administration at present reviewing practices for future years,” Jarden’s analysts wrote. “Current irregular climate occasions, COVID, labour shortages and freight volatility have all contributed to materials earnings uncertainty.”

Costa’s avocado enterprise hasn’t been worthwhile for a while, as a consequence of a nationwide oversupply of the inexperienced fruit. And the sudden resignation of Sean Hallahan, who was till just lately the corporate’s chief government, has injected uncertainty concerning the firm’s administration.


Extra broadly, whereas Costa is the most important nationwide participant within the contemporary produce market, it could wrestle to keep up a aggressive benefit, the sceptics say.

“In our view, solely merchandise with very sturdy model fairness can earn extra returns on this aggressive setting,” Hewitt wrote.

“There’s little differentiation between Costa’s merchandise and competing merchandise on a retail stage.”

  • Recommendation given on this article is common in nature and isn’t supposed to affect readers’ choices about investing or monetary merchandise. Buyers ought to at all times search their very own skilled recommendation that takes under consideration their very own private circumstances earlier than making any monetary choices.

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