Buy Dean Foods

Dean Foods LogoAs I mentioned yesterday, Dean Foods (DF) shot up 13% on the announced terms of its spin-off of WhiteWave Foods (WWAV). Based on the initial pricing for the IPO, Dean is still undervalued. 

 

Business

Dean operates three separate business segments:

  • “Fresh Dairy Direct is one of the nation’s largest processors and direct-to-store distributors of fluid milk marketed under more than 50 local and regional dairy brands and private labels. Fresh Dairy Direct also distributes ice cream, cultured products, juices, teas, bottled water and other products.”
  • “Morningstar Foods is a leading warehouse delivery dairy business that produces and sells traditional and specialty items, including cultured dairy products, ice cream mixes, coffee creamers, aerosol whipped toppings, traditional and value-added milks, and blended iced beverages to retailers and foodservice providers nationwide.”
  • WhiteWave-Alpro develops, manufactures, markets and sells a variety of nationally branded dairy and dairy-related products, such as Horizon Organic milk and other dairy products, International Delight coffee creamers and LAND O LAKES creamers and fluid dairy products, and Silk plant-based beverages, such as soy, almond and coconut milks, and cultured soy products. WhiteWave-Alpro also offers branded plant-based beverages, such as soy, almond and hazelnut drinks, and food products in Europe and markets its products under the Alproand Provamel brands.”

Spin-off

Dean is spinning-off its fastest growing unit, WhiteWave. It is expected to raise up to $320 million by selling 20 million Class A shares at about $14 to $16 each. The underwriters also have an option to purchase up to an additional 3 million Class A shares after the spin-off. Dean will still own 150 million Class B shares after the spin-off. The expected pricing date is October 25th.

Class A and Class B are exactly the same except:

  • Class A has 1 vote per share. Class B has 10 vote per share.
  • Class B also can or will be converted into Class A shares under certain circumstances.

After the spin-off, Dean will control WhiteWave because of its majority ownership and the fact it owns all the Class B shares.

Valuation

The value case for Dean Foods is pretty simple. The market capitalization for all of Dean is $3.13 billion. Based on the price range of $14 to $16 for WhiteWave, the range for its valuation is $2.38 billion to $2.72 billion.  That means the rest of Dean is worth between $410 million to $750 million.

Even though the rest of Dean is having trouble growing revenue and maintaing margins, it still makes over 50% of net income. Dean’s 2012 net income will be around $200 million. If we allocate allocate around $95 million of it to WhiteWave, the rest of Dean will make up the other $105 million. After the spin-off, the rest of Dean would be worth at a P/E of 3.9 to 7.1. 

WhiteWave

WhiteWave has been growing thanks to its brands and its focus on healthy foods such as organic milk and plant based milks. Consumers are moving towards a healthier lifestyle and that includes healthy foods.

Revenue for 9 months in 2012 increased 13% from $1.45 billion to $1.65 billion. Operating income has grown at more than 17% from $132 million to $155 million.

The company had pro forma earnings of $.49/share in 2011. If WhiteWave’s earns around $.57 for 2012, it will trade with a P/E range of 24 to 28 based on the IPO price range. 

Although, I would be hesitant to invest in WhiteWave at this type of valuation, it is somewhat in line with other health food competitors such as Hain Celestial Group, Inc. (HAIN), which trades at 25 times June 2013 earnings. It should be noted that Hain has a higher revenue and income growth rate, but their fiscal year ends in June 2013 where WhiteWave’s ends in December 2012. 

Rest of Dean

I went back and worth between valuing the rest of Dean separately or together. Initially, I valued it separately, but it became too complex because:

  • After the spin-off, Dean will have about $2.5 billion in debt. Assigning different amount of debt to each company has an impact on the valuation.
  • Dean does report operating income for each of the segments, but it has “Corporate and Other Expenses” of around $200 million for the whole company. Assigning different amount of expenses to each company has an impact on the valuation.

So, instead I’m going to make it real simple. As aforementioned, the rest of the company should have over $105 million in net income in 2012 if you back out WhiteWale. However the net income does not take into account:

  • Increasing free cash flow for rest of Dean. In 2012, the rest of Dean is decreasing capital expenditure. Based on management’s 2012 projections their depreciation expense will exceed their capital expenditure by $60 million. That’s $60 million extra in cash.
  • Private sale of Morningstar. In late September, the company was put up for sale by Dean to increase shareholder value. A lot of analysts said that it could fetch $1 billion in a private sale. Morningstar’s business is better than Fresh Dairy Direct’s because customers are less likely to switch from a branded coffee creamer as opposed to a branded milk. However, the market is mature and it is still highly dependent on the cost of raw milk and bulk cream. So, a $1 billion price is hard to fathom. It will have $120 million in operating earnings in 2012. If you factor in some interest expense, taxes and other expenses, net income would probably drop down to $70 million. I could see it going for 12 times that or $840 million. Private equity would still have room to load it with debt and flip it for a profit.
  • Although Fresh Dairy Direct makes up a majority of revenue (over 70%) and is a declining business, it is still profitable (over $400 million in operating earnings expected in 2012) and management is focused on cutting cost to increase profitability. 
Conservatively the rest of Dean’s free cash flow will exceed $150 million in 2012. 8 to 10 times that amount gives a valuation of $1.2 to $1.5 billion.
 
Conclusion
 
So, that gives us a valuation range of $3.58 billion to $4.22 billion or $20/share to $23/share. Of course, the final pricing and even post IPO pricing of WhiteWave has a huge effect on the valuation, but currently it is undervalued.
 
I should note one thing I am scared about is the Fresh Dairy Direct business, but the fact that management is focused on increasing shareholder value gives me some reassurance.
 
Nice to have the stock up $1 from when I recommended it yesterday!
 
Disclosure: I am long DF.