Growth Could Come Naturally

 | Aug 24, 2012 | 12:30 PM EDT
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Tracking big-volume price movers is a regular part of my trading routine.

Even though it's not uncommon for a stock to pull back after a big upside leap, as some traders and investors pocket profits, the move is frequently the start of a longer series of price gains. It can signal that institutions are beginning to amass a position or add significantly to their holdings.

On a day such as Thursday, when the major indices traded lower, it's worthwhile to track names that bucked the trend.

Thursday's big movers included Hain Celestial (HAIN), which vaulted 19% after beating fourth-quarter revenue views. The company missed analysts' earnings outlook but beat on the top line.

Hain said Wednesday that it would acquire the jam and fruit spreads business from U.K.-based Premier Foods. Hain said that the move would give it a greater foothold in the British market.

Thursday's trading brought an all-time high for Hain. Trading volume was more than 7x normal levels.

As you might imagine, the stock is extended from buy range. Watch for a pullback as traders grab some profits. Support at short-term moving averages could offer the next entry opportunity.

Analysts expect double-digit profit growth over the next two years.

That's consistent with the outlook for other companies in the organic and natural foods industry. Analysts see Annie's (BNNY), Whole Foods (WFM) and The Fresh Market (TFM) also posting double-digit earnings growth over the next couple of years.

Another related company was also a heavy-volume price gainer on Thursday. Organic foods distributor United Natural Foods (UNFI) climbed 1.1% on the session. Its intraday high fell $0.04 short of reaching Tuesday's all-time peak of $56.39.

The company is slated to report its fourth quarter on Sept. 11 before the market opens. Analysts have pegged earnings at $0.51 a share on revenue of $1.32 billion. Those would mark year-over-year gains on the top and bottom lines.

United Natural beat earnings views in the past two quarters.

The stock ended Thursday's session slightly above its five-day exponential moving average. It's in a potential buy zone, but with the market under some selling pressure, it's not the best time for making new buys.

Annie's also traded to the upside Thursday. Unlike United Natural and Hain, however, this stock remains a cellar dweller in terms of price performance.

The stock went public at $19 in March, and finished its opening day at $35.92. It closed Thursday at $37.89.

While it can take new IPOs a little time to hit their stride and become price leaders, they are often worth the wait. Analysts expect Annie's to grow earnings at rates of 22% and 21% in the next two fiscal years. Those estimates show good levels of institutional confidence in the company.

In a recent television interview, CEO John Foraker said the Midwest drought has had minimal impact on the company's cost structure and has not hit the bottom line.

The company next reports its earnings in October, with Wall Street eyeing income of $0.25 a share on revenue of $46.09 million, growth over the year-ago quarter.

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