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With an Organic Focus, This Stock is Riding the Clean Eating Wave

As 2024 gets into full swing, a new dietary focus that has been growing over the past few years has burst onto the scene as perhaps the next food craze with staying power. Clean eating has been gathering advocates rapidly, and may now be at a tipping point, especially if the economy recovers and prices of organic foods stabilize. Dole stands to be a major winner in the clean eating movement as it turns its attention fully to the organic aisle.

There’s a new diet trend that has been growing rapidly in both the U.S. and globally. It’s known as “Clean Eating”. Essentially, it’s eating less processed food…think vegetables, fruit, nuts, etc. And, if possible, the food should be pesticide free and ideally grown locally. 

Many natural food companies have been catching this growing wave, and one is a fairly new stock, IPO’ing in 2021, but a very familiar household name, Dole (DOLE). You may know them as the pineapple company, or maybe the banana company, but they are so much more, and their products all fit squarely in the clean eating movement. 

And, Dole has caught on to the clean and organic movement, recently launching Dole Organics and a new consumer brand, Go Organic. According to the company, “Dole Organics will be dedicated to bringing renewed impetus to the organic fresh produce category by promoting cross sector collaboration, consolidating supply, assuring continuity and consistency of product and applying best-in-class category management practices in-store.”

Dole has been running an organic banana program for over 25 years, just recently celebrating the anniversary as the largest grower and distributor of organic bananas and pineapples in the United States. It is this exact experience, Dole’s “local infrastructure and relationships, its global reach and resources and its in-house expertise in growing organics” that should make the company a major player in the clean eating movement. The new branding is geared toward letting the consumer know about Dole organic produce, which is rapidly becoming a mainstream product as opposed to a one off premium purchase. 

Dole is tying in an environmental and green approach, with organic produce, ensuring packaging not only shows off the organic nature of the product, but that the majority of packaging is recyclable and reduces waste. This is part of an overall strategy combining clean eating with environmental consciousness. 

As Dole puts it, “GO Organic’s tagline, ‘Taste first. Planet, always’ positions eating experience as a primary call to purchase, a message that will be amplified by engaging digital and on-pack promotions and innovative in-store activations targeting a broader constituency of consumers than the traditional organic niche.” With the whole idea being that organic produce is not a niche product, but a mainstay and anchor of clean eating. 

And, as the clean eating movement has been gaining steam over the past year, even before Dole had rolled out its organic branding focus, the company has been making clear positive strides…as evidenced by its stock moving from just over $7 to its current price of just over $11.  

In its latest quarterly earnings release Dole Carl McCann, Dole Executive Chairman reported, “We are very pleased that our momentum from the first half of the year has continued into the third quarter. We delivered another strong set of results, with Revenue growth of 4.2% and Adjusted EBITDA growth of 7.6%.”

Dole’s stock currently has a PE ratio under 8, and sales at a measly 0.10 times sales. Enterprise value to sales isn’t much higher, coming in at 0.29.

Dole is an A rated stock in our POWR Ratings, clocking in at close to 97% in its overall rating. It also scores an A in the Value component, as well as a B in both Sentiment and Growth. This aligns perfectly with the clean eating thesis, and Dole's role in the movement. 

Dole is perfectly positioned to take advantage of the clean eating trend, which as I mentioned above appears to be just getting off the ground as a dietary phenomenon. The company recently exited its fresh vegetable business, and has returned to focusing on fresh produce, with a particular focus on organic, which it has a vast amount of experience in already. At these price levels the stock definitely deserves a look as one of the flag bearers for clean eating.

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DOLE shares were trading at $11.40 per share on Thursday afternoon, up $0.03 (+0.26%). Year-to-date, DOLE has declined -7.24%, versus a 2.42% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.

About the Author: Steven Adams

After earning a law degree cum laude with a focus on securities law, Steven worked as a Nasdaq market maker for a large broker dealer, and then as a trader for an arbitrage focused proprietary hedge fund. He subsequently worked as a consultant for a Fortune 500 consulting firm serving both government and commercial clients, including the NYSE, Prudential, FDIC, and NASA.


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