J&J Snack slips on harvest squeeze

Shares of J&J Snack Foods slipped again today, a day after the shares fell more than $2, to $50.06, after a quarterly earnings report fell short of investor targets.  Boss Gerald B. Shreiber, in a confernece call with investors, blamed "higher ingredient and packaging cost" including "significantly higher gasoline costs" and resistance to raising retail prices.

Shreiber also said J&J "hope(s) to be part" of Wawa's Florida expansion. The Delaware County-based chain plans its first Tampa- and Orlando-area stores this summer.

Shreiber "is the Steve Jobs of the food business," in that he demands a lot from his people, Huntingdon Valley asset manager Robert Costello told me later. But there's only so much he can do about the weather: "The last two years there's been bad wheat harvests all over the world," which has driven up food costs; consumer resistance to higher prices has squeezed food processors, he noted.

"The first quarter there's a good harvest, J&J is going to have a blowout quarter," Costello added. "But I was just looking at JPMorgan's list of the 40 'best idea' stocks. None of them were food companies. What does that tell you?"

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