Update Middleby (MIDD)

08/19/2009 12:30 pm EST

Focus: STOCKS

Jim Jubak

Founder and Editor, JubakPicks.com

On August 12 Middleby (MIDD) reported second quarter earnings of 74 cents a share. That was 7 cents a share below Wall Street expectations. Revenue also came in light at $159 million versus the $170 million Wall Street had projected.

Middleby has attempted to keep growing its business by acquiring smaller competitors and targeting potential top tier customers with a new sales team.

That strategy is sound in the long run the company operates in a fragmented industry and many of its competitors in the commercial kitchen equipment/cooking unit business are currently stressed by a combination of tighter lending standards and slower business.

 But that long term strategy has short-term costs because the company has to keep on spending even its own revenue comes under pressure in the recession.

 In past quarters the company has said that it hoped to be able to wring sufficient cost savings out of its current business so that the fall-off in current revenue—revenue fell 8.6% from the second quarter of 20008—wouldn’t too badly ding earnings.

 This quarter qualifies as a “ding.”

 But I think the emphasis on the long term is the right way to go despite the short-term ding. As of August 19 I’m setting a new lower target price for Middleby (lower in recognition of the likelihood that this will be a slow economic recovery of $65 a share (down from $75) by July 2010. (Full disclosure: I own shares of Middleby in my personal portfolio.)

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