Medifast is a growth company that is sporting some attractive value-stock metrics after its shares have fallen to a level that is “simply ridiculous” when measured against its prospects, according to Taesik Yoon, who edits the Forbes Special Situation Survey and Forbes Investor newsletters. The diet business’s equity has suffered with growth shares in general as elevated inflation and aggressive Federal Reserve monetary policy to combat it have caused investors to rethink stocks that benefit from an expanding economy.
A slide of roughly 40% in the past year undervalues a growth story that is taking a hit now but remains intact over the longer term, says Yoon, making the stock a bargain. Yet despite also having a fantastic balance sheet with more than twice as much cash on hand than total debt and paying a very generous dividend that is now yielding almost 5%, Yoon says, Medifast’s stock currently trades at less than 12 times its earnings expectations for the year versus a five-year average of 19.4. That might make sense if you expected the current earnings swoon to persist, but Yoon thinks the secular trend toward healthier living and the company’s coach-based business model will have its earnings back on the rise soon, outpacing the market.
Medifast combines an extensive menu of proprietary nutritional products to help with diet goals and a network of almost 64,000 independent coaches. Most of these are former customers who achieved their weight-reduction goals and are compensated from the sales of company products to their clients. Medifast delivers its food regimens to customers, which aided revenue during the pandemic lockdowns and helped earnings growth accelerate by an average 53% over the past two calendar years. That drove its shares to a record $337 in May 2021, but they have lost more than half of that since. Still, even accounting for the risk of an economic slowdown, Yoon expects Medifast’s heavy spending to improve its technology and distribution infrastructure, which could help raise annual sales to more than $2.5 billion, up almost $1 billion from 2021.
Yoon sees long-term profit growth in the double digits, in line with expected sales gains and with operating margins in the mid-teens.