The Motley Fool

Safest Stock in North America for TFSA Investors

Lassonde Industries (TSX:LAS-A) sells ready-to-drink fruit and vegetable juices and drinks in North America and internationally. The company also sells cranberry sauces and develops, manufactures, and markets specialty food products, including fondue broths and sauces, and pasta sauces.

The company sells and markets selected wines; and produces apple cider and cider based beverages. The company also sells products under various trademarks, such as Antico, Apple & Eve, Arte Nova, Bombay, Canton, Double Vie, Dublin’s Pub, Everfresh, Fairlee, Fruité, Grown Right and Mont-Rouge.

Lassonde serves supermarket chains, independent grocers, superstores, warehouse clubs, pharmacy chains, and online sales. Lassonde is a 100-year-old company headquartered in Rougemont, Quebec.

The company is fairly valued with a price-to-earnings ratio of 18.9, price to book ratio of 1.8 and market capitalization of 1.15 billion. Debt is conservatively used at Lassonde, as is evidenced by a debt to equity ratio of just 0.5. The company has excellent performance metrics with an operating margin of 6.4% and a return on equity of 9.31%.

The company produces superior quality products and employs 2,200 people working in 15 plants across Canada and the United States.

The company recently noted that industry sales volumes in the U.S. and Canadian fruit juice and drinks markets were down for the 12-month period ending Q3 2019.

The company’s sales were up 1.0% in Q3 2019 compared to the same period last year. Barring any significant external shocks, the company expects that, for 2019, it will be able to achieve a consolidated annual sales growth rate slightly above that of 2018.

Lassonde’s selling price increases in the U.S. market have started to take effect in the third quarter of 2019, but increases in costs have outpaced the price increases. The company remains cautious that the U.S. competitive environment has become particularly challenging.

Since 2014, the company’s product development strategy has focused primarily on hydration and health. By 2025, Lassonde is striving to reduce the sugar content of all products by 20% compared to 2015 values.

The company’s communication campaigns promote the benefits of 100% fruit juice. The company also founded the Canadian Fruit Juice Council and intends to participate in the work of the U.S. Juice Product Association.

The company is working on restoring the profitability of U.S. operations through disciplined application of the minimum contribution margin for the use of the company’s production capacity.

The company is also pursuing a $30 million investment program of Lassonde Specialties that spans over three years to meet the needs stemming from strong growth of that subsidiary.

The company is looking to grow organically by adding low-calorie hydration products in both single-serve and family formats and by developing new solutions for private label customers.

Lassonde is also making efforts to increase presence in the wine industry in Canada and is participating actively in the development of the grocery store wine market in Ontario.

Lassonde is a highly profitable company operating in a recession resistant industry. The company is speeding up debt repayment which should provide flexibility to engage in share buybacks and pursue strategic acquisitions. This is an excellent company to buy now and hold over the long-term.


Just Released! 5 "Dirt Cheap" TSX Stocks for You to Buy Today (Yours Free)

Motley Fool Canada's market-beating team of experts has just released a brand-new FREE report revealing 5 "dirt cheap" stocks that you can buy today.

Our team thinks these 5 stocks are critically undervalued right now, but more importantly, they could potentially make Canadian investors who act quickly a fortune.

Don't miss out! Simply click the link below to grab your free copy and discover all 5 of these stocks now.

Claim your free 5-stock report now!

Fool contributor Nikhil Kumar has no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

I consent to receiving information from The Motley Fool via email, direct mail, and occasional special offer phone calls. I understand I can unsubscribe from these updates at any time. Please read the Privacy Statement and Terms of Service for more information.