Blackmores' new infant formula drives JP Morgan expectation

16 Jan, 2016 01:00 AM
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A prominent investment bank is tipping Blackmores shares to surge to $225 before the end of 2016 after the company unveiled its much-anticipated brand of infant formula.

The vitamins maker made its three infant formula products - newborn, follow-on and toddler - available for pre-order on its website and a Chinese online retailer owned by e-commerce giant Alibaba on Tuesday.

Blackmores is producing the product in a partnership with Bega Cheese, which manufactures Bellamy's infant formula under contract at its plant at Tatura in Victoria's Goulburn Valley region.

JP Morgan expects Blackmores shares, which surged 481.8 per cent in the past 12 months, to rise from about $202 to $225 before the end of 2016.

The investment bank's analysts said Blackmores' presence in China, which has been bolstered by securing tennis star Li Na as a brand ambassador, should help the company gain market share.

Blackmores' shares have lost some steam this month after hitting a high of $220.90 on January 4.

JP Morgan analysts said although the market opportunity remained "immense" for Australian infant formula makers, entering the category increased the risk profile for the entire Blackmores group.

"Blackmores is lending its brand to a new category and a product that is manufactured by a third party. While Blackmores' vitamins and supplements are currently manufactured by a handful of third parties, these are based on arrangements that have been in place for a number of years and in some cases decades," JP Morgan wrote in a note to investors.

Some popular infant formula brands have struggled to keep their products on Australian supermarket shelves as more and more tins of the product are being bought from local retailers and onsold to Chinese parents via the grey market.

Blackmores' pricing is similar to other premium infant formula makers, starting at $25.99 for a 900 gram container of toddler formula and rising to $29.99 for its newborn product.

The tins include Bega's Tatura logo and a small picture of a kangaroo, indicating its Australian origins.

"We expect the company to launch and market infant formula as a product formulated and manufactured by an Australian company using only premium Australian ingredients," JP Morgan analysts said.

"In our view, this could be a meaningful differentiating factor from most of the major infant formula products currently available on the shelf in Australia."

Blackmores hasn't listed a date when the product will become available ahead of its official launch on January 16.

The company has posted a message on its website, urging parents to consider breastfeeding their babies if possible. This is what the World Health Organisation also encourages.

"Blackmores supports breastfeeding as the best nutrition for babies. Frequent breastfeeding will provide nipple stimulation and help to increase a mother's milk supply to meet the needs of her growing baby, so it may be difficult to return to full breastfeeding if parents decide to partially formula feed a breastfed baby."

Blackmores unveiled its partnership with Bega Cheese in October last year, sending its share price above $200 for the first time.

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Recognise but gouge them (the growers) and maximise returns to shareholders! If growers fall
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All Labours fault. Yet water buy backs closed over subscribed. Surly the point of this story
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We have been through this before. Whole of life tracability is a nonsense based on fantasy.