Feeling Groovy with General Mills

You want a stock for hard times? How about the maker of Hamburger Helper, General Mills (GIS)? It seems every time I turn on the radio here in Palm Springs I hear the 30-second commercial featuring the busy working mom that coaches the girls’ basketball team and still insists that everyone sit down for dinner each night. (I presume it’s after hoops practice.)

The pitch is so effective it makes me want to drive straight to Wal-Mart and stock up on a carton of the stuff. I haven’t done any serious astrological or financial analysis on General Mills, but BusinessWeek.com’s Ben Steverman notes the 2.9% dividend yield is yummy. Read his take here:

http://www.businessweek.com/investor/content/mar2008/pi20080311_623395.htm

General Mills dates back to 1928,  and its shares first traded on the New York Stock Exchange on Nov. 30 of that year. The company’s recent incarnation came into existence on Oct. 31, 2001, when its merger with Pillsbury was completed. The following day, the company’s CEO Paul Sanger, rang the opening bell on the Big Board, and trading commenced in the shares of “new” General Mills. My source on this? The company’s history: http://www.generalmills.com/corporate/company/hist_decades.pdf

I know there are some folks out there who would set the chart for the first time that flour was ground, but I’m inclined to use the Oct. 31 date to look at the company’s prospects from an astrological viewpoint. I’ll set the chart for that moment in time (9:30 a.m. in New York) and get back to you with my findings.

In the meantime, you don’t have to be a Harvard MBA to figure out that rising commodity prices are going to beef up earnings for makers of food staples. Yes, higher commodity prices mean higher overhead for food producers, but eventually those costs are going to be passed along to consumers, even if it’s the old make-the-box-smaller trick.  I might cut back on Godiva chocolate but I still need to buy Cheerios, another GIS product.

Now, I know some bargain hunters might go for generic cereal. Not me — I was programmed too well by Madison Avenue during my 1960s childhood. Case in point: The other day I was dancing around the apartment singing “Feeling groovy. Just had my Cheerios. I’m feeling groovy” and my husband looked at me as if I were a complete nut.

“Where did you get that from?” he asked. “TV in the Sixties. Where else?” I replied, breaking into my best rendition of the Teaberry Shuffle. Don’t remember how to do it? Click here for the 1960s commercial: http://www.roadode.com/eat_1.shtml

P.S., I encourage anyone who is thinking of buying General Mills to do her own homework, as this company has faced some management turmoil lately. This post is not a “buy” recommendation, but reflects my beliefs that commodity prices aren’t going down anytime soon, this week’s gyrations notwithstanding, and that this real-life rerun of “That ’70s Show” might call for a little Hamburger Helper.

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