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Why Dole plc (DOLE) Stands Out as a Top Choice in Farm Products Stocks?

Despite the uncertain macroeconomic environment, Dole plc (DOLE) has delivered a steady financial performance in its most recent quarter. The stock has generated stable returns this year and might be worth your money. Let’s discuss this in detail...

Dole plc (DOLE), a highly regarded fruit and vegetable provider, has seen consistent growth throughout the year by accruing an impressive 26.1% surge in share value year-to-date. This comes despite prevailing strenuous macroeconomic circumstances.

To accommodate a burgeoning global population and the resulting escalating demand for food products, nations are putting measures into place aimed at bolstering the production of superior-quality crops, thereby boosting overall agricultural productivity. Concurrently, governmental expenditure on agriculture is witnessing an upward trajectory.

In light of these favorable trends, DOLE has been experiencing reliable growth this year, recording an adjusted EBITDA of $85.20 million in the most recent quarter. Moreover, the company has set forth a target of achieving at least $365 million in adjusted EBITDA for 2023.

Given these encouraging prospective indicators, potential investors considering cultivating a portfolio with farm product stocks may deem DOLE a prime candidate. The following key metrics substantiate this bullish sentiment towards the company.

Analyzing DOLE's Economic Performance

The trailing-12-month Net Income of DOLE showed a fluctuating trend over the observed period. Here's the breakdown:

  • At the end of 2020, the net income was at $42.71 million.
  • There were significant negative fluctuations through 2021 with the net income reaching a deficit of -$7.22 million by December.
  • In the mid of 2022, the net income decreased further and recorded a loss of -$17.89 million.
  • A significant positive turnaround occurred in the last quarter of 2022 with net income soaring to reach $50.46 million in September and doubling to $86.50 million by December.
  • In 2023, we observed a continued increase in net income with the value reaching $102.05 million in March, $103.05 million in June, and peaking at $108.51 million by September.

Emphasizing more recent data, DOLE’s net income has seen remarkable growth in 2023 after overcoming significant losses in 2021 and mid-2022. The overall growth rate from the initial value in 2020 to the last known value in 2023 is impressive, indicating a substantial improvement in DOLE's net income position.

The Gross Margin of DOLE has been fluctuating in the last four years.

  • In December 2020, DOLE's Gross Margin recorded a high value of 7.7%.
  • There was a decrease to 5.4% in both annual records in December 2021.
  • The first half of 2022 showed a slight decrease to 5.3% in June while in the last quarter of the same year it rose marginally to 5.5% by September and then to 6.4% by the end of December.
  • This upward trend continued into 2023 with a recorded Gross Margin of 7.1% in March, indicating further improvement in the company's profitability. This positive trajectory maintained with 7.6% in June and 8.2% in September 2023.

We can summarize that despite initial fluctuations in 2020 and 2021, there has been constant growth from 2022 onwards. Comparing the first data point (7.7% in December 2020) to the last (8.2% in September 2023), the growth rate amounts to approximately 0.5%. The latest significant increase reassures a promising future performance for DOLE.

The DPS (Dividends Per Share) of DOLE has displayed a noticeable trend of rising since its lack of dividends in December 2020. Key trends and fluctuations are as follows:

  • December 2020 to December 2021: The reported DPS remained at $0.00.
  • December 2021: DOLE first initiated dividends, recording a DPS of $0.08.
  • March 2022: DOLE's DPS doubled to $0.16.
  • June 2022: An incremental increase was observed again to $0.24.
  • September 2022 to September 2023: A substantial surge took the DPS to $0.32, after which it plateaued through to September 2023.

The calculated growth rate, taking the measurement from the first recorded value ($0.00 in December 2020) to the last known value ($0.32 in September 2023) is significant as it indicates that DOLE's DPS has moved from zero dividends to a consistent series of payouts over the period. More recently, we have seen a flatlining of this growth with the DPS remaining static at $0.32 for at least four consecutive quarters from September 2022 to September 2023. This stabilization suggests more predictability in DOLE's dividend distribution over that period.

The Analyst Price Target for DOLE displayed significant fluctuations over the timeframe provided, from November 2021 to December 2023. Here is a summary of the key trends:

  • Starting at $19 in November 2021, this value remained constant until February 2022.
  • Then, it experienced a steady decline leading to the lowest point at $12.95 in October 2022.
  • Thereafter, there are reassuring signs of recovery, as the Analyst Price Target has consecutively increased for the first time since beginning data collection. By the end of the series, in December 2023, the figure stood at $17.

More specific details include:

  • From November 2021 through February 2022, the Analyst Price Target remained unchanged at $19.
  • A slight drop was marked in March 2022, with the figure falling to $18.32.
  • It continued to tumble, reaching its history's lowest mark of $12.95 in October 2022.
  • From November 2022 to April 2023, the Analyst Price Target showed no change at $14.
  • Then, a streak of growth was noted, starting in May 2023, when the value rose to $15 and maintained until September 2023.
  • The final quarter of 2023 showed three consecutive months of increases culminating in an ultimate figure of $17 in December 2023.

Looking at these trends, we notice that the DOLE's Analyst Price Target has decreased by approximately 10.53% over the two-year period, with most of this decrease happening in the first half of the term. However, the recent gains give reasons to be optimistic. Please note that historical performance does not guarantee future results.

DOLE's Share Price Trend: A Six-Month Analysis of Declining Stocks (June-December 2023)

Based on the data presented, DOLE's share price exhibits a general decreasing trend from June 2023 to December 2023. Here are the key points:

  • Starting at $13.50 in June 2023, there was a slight decrease towards $13.10 by July 7, 2023.
  • After reaching a low point of $12.78 on July 14, 2023, the stock made a minor recovery up to $13.27 by August 4, 2023.
  • From mid-August until the end of September 2023, the share prices rapidly declined, lowering to $11.65 on September 29, 2023.
  • Throughout October 2023, the share price continued to slightly decrease, reaching another low point of $10.83 on October 20, 2023.
  • Following this decline, the share price slightly increased to $11.09 by the end of October 2023.
  • During November and December 2023, the price displayed minor fluctuations, but overall revealed a slight increase, ending at $12.08 on December 21, 2023.

Overall, the trend suggests that despite some small recoveries and fluctuations, DOLE's share price generally decreased across this period. Comparing the initial value in June 2023 ($13.50) with the final one in December 2023 ($12.08), presents a clear magnitude of the decrease. This indicates a negative growth rate over these months. Here is a chart of DOLE's price over the past 180 days.

Examining DOLE's Performance Across Value, Sentiment and Quality Dimensions in 2023

DOLE has an overall A rating, translating to a Strong Buy in our POWR Ratings system. It is ranked first among the 23 stocks in the  Agriculture category.

The POWR Ratings for DOLE across its six dimensions provide insightful data regarding the company's performance. Considering only the three most significant dimensions, i.e., those with the highest ratings, the key observations are as below:

Value: Value consistently ranks as one of the highest dimensions for DOLE. It stands at an impressive score of 94 in June 2023, further increasing to 95 in July 2023. The dimension retains high scores throughout the year, hovering around the mid-90s, and culminates at an all-time high of 96 in December 2023.

Sentiment: Sentiment exhibits a notable fluctuating trend throughout the year 2023. It begins at a high note at 79 in June but drops to 31 by September. This is the lowest point in the year. However, the sentiment rebounds substantially and peaks at 85 in November before settling at a robust 79 by December 2023.

Quality: The Quality dimension shows a general growth trend over the year, starting at 61 in June 2023 and reaching 73 by December 2023. Despite a few dips in between, such as decreasing to 56 in August and again picking up to 63 in November, it maintains an upward trajectory.

To sum up, the Value dimension consistently displays high ratings for DOLE throughout 2023, while Sentiment fluctuates but recovers towards the year-end. Quality shows a progressive growth trend, proving there are essential aspects where DOLE is performing well.

How does Dole plc (DOLE) Stack Up Against its Peers?

Other stocks in the Agriculture sector that may be worth considering are Adecoagro S.A. (AGRO), Bunge Limited (BG), and Israel Chemicals Limited (ICL) -- they have better POWR Ratings.

What To Do Next?

43 year investment veteran, Steve Reitmeister, has just released his 2024 market outlook along with trading plan and top 11 picks for the year ahead.

2024 Stock Market Outlook >

DOLE shares were trading at $12.32 per share on Friday afternoon, up $0.15 (+1.23%). Year-to-date, DOLE has gained 31.12%, versus a 25.93% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.

About the Author: Subhasree Kar

Subhasree’s keen interest in financial instruments led her to pursue a career as an investment analyst. After earning a Master’s degree in Economics, she gained knowledge of equity research and portfolio management at Finlatics.


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