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Morgan Stanley Upgrades Spirits Stock Amid Easing Agave Headwinds

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Morgan Stanley Upgrades Brown-Forman Spirits Stock as Agave Headwinds Ease

Morgan Stanley has given a double upgrade to spirits stock Brown-Forman, recommending investors to buy. Analyst Eric Serotta raised the rating from underweight to overweight and increased the price target to $75 from $66, indicating a potential 12% upside. The previous underweight call was based on concerns about gross margin recovery, valuation, and slower industry growth. However, Serotta now sees significant upside potential for the stock. He notes that the shift in gross margins from a headwind to a tailwind, along with improved visibility on gross margin recovery in the next 12-24 months, contribute to the positive outlook. The lower spot prices for agave, a key ingredient in tequila production, have also eased the disproportionate impact on the company's margins.

Positive Valuation and Growth Prospects

Serotta highlights that while Brown-Forman's absolute valuation may not be cheap, its relative valuation appears compelling compared to peers like Monster Beverage and Constellation Brands. Despite a 1% dip in growth since the pre-Covid period of 2020, Serotta believes that Brown-Forman has a promising future. He expects the company to deliver 5-7% organic sales growth for many years to come, driven by growth in the US distilled spirits category, share gains in developed international markets, and strong growth in emerging markets.

Industry Outlook and Investor Focus

Serotta anticipates that concerns over industry growth will dissipate, allowing investors to refocus on Brown-Forman's robust long-term topline growth and high single-digit operating income growth profile. The improved visibility on gross margin recovery, coupled with the decline in agave prices, further supports the positive outlook for the company. In conclusion, Morgan Stanley's double upgrade of Brown-Forman spirits stock reflects the easing of agave headwinds and improved prospects for the company. With a positive valuation and strong growth potential, Brown-Forman is expected to deliver consistent organic sales growth. As industry concerns subside and gross margin recovery becomes more apparent, investors are likely to appreciate the stock's upside potential.

Implications for New Businesses

Morgan Stanley's double upgrade of Brown-Forman's spirits stock offers valuable insights for new businesses. It underscores the importance of market analysis and strategic planning in navigating industry challenges and seizing growth opportunities.

Lessons from Brown-Forman's Experience

Brown-Forman's experience highlights the importance of adaptability in the face of market headwinds. The company's ability to turn gross margin challenges into tailwinds, particularly with the easing of agave costs, demonstrates the value of resilience and strategic management. New businesses, especially those in the spirits industry, can learn from this example and develop strategies to manage their own industry-specific challenges.
Investor Focus and Business Growth
Serotta's anticipation of dissipating industry concerns and refocusing of investors on Brown-Forman's robust long-term growth profile is a reminder of the importance of investor relations for new businesses. By effectively communicating their growth prospects and strategic plans, businesses can attract investors and secure the necessary capital for expansion. In conclusion, the upgrade of Brown-Forman's spirits stock serves as a case study for new businesses. It highlights the importance of resilience, strategic planning, and effective investor communication in navigating industry challenges and driving business growth. As they build their own strategies, new businesses can draw valuable lessons from Brown-Forman's experience.
Story First Published at: https://www.cnbc.com/2023/08/23/morgan-stanley-double-upgrades-this-spirits-stock-as-agave-headwinds-ease.html
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