When it comes to Lyft (NASDAQ:LYFT), I’m on the fence. While I like the idea that Uber (NYSE:UBER) has a major competitor in North America to keep prices low, it’s terrible if you want to make money off Lyft stock.
In December, I stated that Lyft’s pathway to profitability is best achieved by raising prices. This wasn’t an original idea, mind you. It came from Barclays Capital’s analysis of ride-hailing trips in New York City.
Although this theory provided a glimmer of hope, I wanted nothing to do with it or Uber. The fact analysts have been reasonably positive about both stocks in 2020, be damned.
What’s There to Like About Lyft Stock?
First, I often repeat the wise words of Canadian billionaire money manager Stephen Jarislowsky in my articles about recent IPOs because they are spot on.
“New issues are typically well promoted,” wrote Jarislowsky in his 2005 book, The Investment Zoo. “My experience is that you can buy nine out of 10 new issues at a lower price a year or two later … I generally avoid new issues….”
Here we sit, 10 months after Lyft’s IPO, and its stock price is down 40% through Jan. 16. That provides interested investors with a much cheaper entry point.
A second point to make is that even analysts such as Bernstein’s Mark Shmulik, who’s got a target price of $48 on Lyft stock (it’s at $47 as I write this), admits Lyft’s got some things going for it.
“The good news is that they operate in a market that appears to be rationalizing, which helps drive bottom-line margin improvement” Shmulik wrote in a Jan. 8 note to clients. “… Our revenue forecast remains steady at 26% Y/Y in-line with consensus.”
Finally, InvestorPlace’s Brad Moon recently stated that out of 37 analysts, 23 rate Lyft a buy with a median target price of $70, providing investors with potential upside of 49%. In a year in which many experts expect the markets to tread water, an almost 50% return is very enticing.
However, with profitability not expected until at least 2021, Lyft has got to execute at a very high level.
I don’t see that the risks are worth it.
Instead, I would argue that if you did a screen of U.S. stocks with a market capitalization of $2 billion or higher, my guess is that those trading directly above and below Lyft stock in terms of share price would present a better investment opportunity.
This time next year, I’ll be sure to let readers know if I was right.
This Drink Maker Had a Tough 2019
National Beverage (NASDAQ:FIZZ), the maker of LaCroix sparkling water, lost almost 30% of its value in 2019. It now trades for about a third of its all-time high hit in September 2017.
First, here’s the good news.
On Dec. 6, National Beverage reported second-quarter adjusted earnings per share of 70 cents, 2 cents higher than the consensus estimate. FIZZ stock gained 12% on the news. The company noted that its November orders were ahead of the same period a year earlier. And its new Hi-Biscus flavor for LaCroix drink was flying off the shelves.
The bad news is that the company got hit with a lawsuit last June that alleged LaCroix sparkling water isn’t nearly as good for you as the company claims. It’s because of this lawsuit and PepsiCo’s (NASDAQ:PEP) commitment to spend more on Bubly, its sparkling water brand, that investors are lining up to short its stock.
If I had to bet my last $5, I’d probably go with FIZZ because it makes money.
The Tree House Rocks
The stock directly below Lyft on my screen is TreeHouse Foods (NYSE:THS), a leading manufacturer of private-label packaged foods and beverages. It might not be a glamorous business, but it helps keep grocery-store brands on the shelves.
On Jan. 13, TreeHouse announced that its deal to sell its ready-to-eat cereal business to Post Holdings (NYSE:POST) was terminated due to opposition from the Federal Trade Commission. As a result, the company will put the business up for sale once more, looking for a buyer that’s not already heavily involved in the RTE cereal business.
Going back to the drawing board is never a good thing. But that’s business. Eventually, TreeHouse will find a suitable buyer. In the meantime, it expects to generate revenues and adjusted earnings from continuing operations in 2019 of $4.3 billion and $2.30 a share, respectively.
Down 20% over the past 52 weeks, TreeHouse’s valuation is cheaper than it’s been in five years. It’s not risk free, mind you, but it won’t be nearly as volatile as Lyft in 2020.
Ultimately, both of these alternatives aren’t nearly as sexy as Lyft stock — but who cares? All you should care about is making money over the long haul.
At the time of this writing Will Ashworth did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.