Oat milk shortage about to end? Oatly CEO weighs in

Oatly CEO Toni Petersson said there is light at the end of the tunnel with respect to the oat milk shortage that has existed during the pandemic due to significantly more at-home consumption of packaged foods. 

"No," Petersson responded when asked by Yahoo Finance if the shortage would continue into 2022. "It's going to improve. It has improved since March. It's going to continue to increase [product availability] every single month here."

To help improve demand, Oatly said it will increase production capacity at its Ogden, Utah, facility and in facilities in Asia and Europe. The company expects to increase production by 200% by the end of 2022, compared to 2020. 

Persistent supply constraints weighed on Oatly's second quarter performance. Sales rose 53.3% year-over-year. Adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) loss came in at $31.9 million compared to a loss of $1.2 million a year ago. 

Here is how Oatly performed compared to Wall Street analyst estimates for the second quarter:

  • Net Sales: $146.2 million vs. $147 million

  • Loss per Share: $0.11 vs. $0.10

The company reiterated its long-term targets for a gross margin of 40% and EBITDA margin approaching 20%.

Oatly shares rose 1% to $17 in Monday trading, putting the stock price in line with the IPO's pricing in mid-May. The stock had reached a high of $28 in mid-June amid optimism on the outlook for oat milk demand and Oatly's leading market share position in the market. But shares came under pressure in mid-July following an attack on the company's financial reporting by short-seller Spruce Point. 

Oatly was quick to rebuff Spruce Point's claims. 

Jefferies analyst Rob Dickerson said he came away with a positive take on the situation after a meeting with management post-earnings.

"In our follow-up call with mgmt. today, we were told that nothing in the recent short report could be substantiated by an internal and external analysis conducted by Oatly and that’s where the OTLY is going to leave it. While we understand points made in the report around competitive dynamics, we still find it too early to call long-term share pressure issues given the lack of real-time data across geographies and channels and given the company is supply constrained. We will continue to monitor the situation, but the expectation now is that we should start to see share positioning improvements into YE in the Americas as incremental capacity comes online and Oatly is able to better expand distribution, even with pre-existing customers, Dickerson said in a note to clients.

When asked by Yahoo Finance if he has a message for investors following the short-seller report, Petersson said Oatly remains a growth company. 

"There are a lot of things we want to say. But we are positioned to take a global leading role in driving the plant-based revolution forward. We haven't even started to scratch the surface yet and the runway is massive," Petersson said.

To that point, Oatly has recently begun selling soft-serve ice cream. The surface is being scratch, so it seems.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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