‘Sell’ recommendation for General Mills a rarity

NEW YORK — In issuing a “sell” recommendation for General Mills, Inc., Goldman Sachs is bucking the trend among Wall Street analysts covering the Minneapolis-based food company and analysts covering leading consumer packaged foods companies in general.

Citing sluggish sales trends and diminishing tailwinds for the “antiquated food” sector, Jason English, a Goldman managing director, downgraded General Mills to a sell from a “neutral” recommendation, setting a 12-month price target of $58 a share.

Over the past three months, 19 other analyst recommendations for General Mills have been issued or affirmed, none of which has been a call to sell General Mills shares. Other analyst recommendations include 2 “strong buys,” 2 “buys,” 12 “holds,” and 3 “underperforms.”

Leading consumer packaged food companies that have not received a single “sell” recommendation over the past three months include Campbell Soup Co. (16 recommendation between strong buy and underperform); J.M. Smucker Co. (19); ConAgra Foods, Inc. (13); Kellogg Co. (20); PepsiCo, Inc. (16); and Mondelez International, Inc. (22).

Among 17 recommendations for highly-leveraged Kraft Heinz, Inc., one analyst has a sell recommendation. The sell guidance was reissued by Citigroup in late February. Since that time Kraft Heinz shares have appreciated in value by about 10%.