Financial Literacy

The Mac-N-Cheese Economic Indicator?

The Mac-N-Cheese Economic Indicator?

by The Investment U Research Team

If you’re looking for a clutch economic indicator, try Mac-N-Cheese sales.

Seriously. They soared 10% in the first quarter, reflecting the consumer weakness we witnessed elsewhere, which ultimately drove the markets lower in January and February.

Last spring and summer they surged 20% ahead of the market collapse, as economic fears mounted. And they jumped in 1990, as the economy headed into a slowdown.

In other words, check the grocery store each week. If the Mac-N-Cheese shelf is bare, sell your stocks. When it’s packed full, start buying back in.

I bet you dollars-to-donuts, it would be a more profitable market-timing strategy than other ones I’ve seen touted. (Like those terrible infomercials promoting 4X Made Easy, for instance).

At the very least, it would give you a compelling “Buy” or “Sell” signal on the maker of Mac-N-Cheese, Kraft Foods Inc. (NYSE: KFT).

In the most recent quarter Mac-N-Cheese sales helped the company beat consensus earnings expectations by a nickel. And the stock responded in kind, by jumping almost 10% itself. That’s a lot of “cheese.”

As chief executive Irene Rosenfeld indicates, “There is no question that we are benefiting from the value orientation of consumers.” I’d say.

That’s a trend we expect to continue. And we can certainly make the same prediction for the stock in light of the recent strength, and the fact shares trade so cheaply at just 13 times forward earnings.

Symbols mentioned in this article: KFT.

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