Beyond Meat shares sink as Wall Street startled by slowing sales

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A Beyond Meat Burger is seen on display at a store in Port Washington, New York

(Reuters) – Beyond Meat Inc’s <BYND.O> shares sank 22% on Tuesday as a slowdown in the pace of sales growth for its plant-based meat shocked investors, while a surprise announcement of a tie up with McDonald’s Corp <MCD.N> created more confusion than hunger on Wall Street.

The faux meat maker’s shares surged nearly 90% over the last year, as the company emerged as one of the leaders of a plant-based meat trend that has had fast-food chains falling over themselves in a rush to get the veggie products on their menus.

However, Beyond Meat said on Monday COVID-19 restrictions were cutting sales at many of the restaurants and food-service joints it supplies, while initial stocking up of its plant-based burgers and sausages at grocery stores had tapered down, leading to a surprise quarterly loss.

“We are struck by the degree to which third quarter revenues came in shy of the Street (it has been a long time since a food company missed like this) and our crystal ball into Beyond Meat’s near-term fortunes is cloudier than ever,” J.P.Morgan analysts said.

J.P.Morgan was not the only brokerage rethinking its forecasts for the company, as at least eight brokerages cut their price targets on the company’s stock.

There was some confusion around Beyond Meat’s involvement with McDonald’s new “McPlant” product line, which was announced on Monday.

Beyond Meat said it had co-created the patty used in McPlant, but could not provide any further details, leaving analysts puzzled as to how much Beyond Meat could earn from the tie up.

“Lack of clarity around potential McDonald’s deal adds insult to injury,” Berenberg analysts said, adding that it was also weighing on the company’s shares.

(Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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