The investor’s guide to Bellamy’s Australia Ltd shares

Often when it comes to investing, no news is good news.

That certainly appears to be the case with Bellamy’s Australia Ltd (ASX: BAL) which has managed to regain its composure following a volatile few months. Although shares have fallen 2.3% today to $11.43, they are still trading almost 15% higher than they were just over a fortnight ago, when they fell to $9.95.

Let’s rewind for a moment. Bellamy’s was one of the best-performing shares on the entire ASX in 2015. The stock shot to fame as demand for its infant formula and baby foods products blossomed, driven largely by Chinese demand.

Chinese parents are somewhat hesitant to buy locally-produced foods for their children given the health issues associated with some of those products in the past, so are generally willing to pay a higher price for a better-quality product.

That’s one of the reasons why Bellamy’s recorded such strong sales and earnings growth during financial year 2015, with a2 Milk Company Ltd (Australia) (ASX: A2M) also reporting some splendid figures.

With Blackmores Limited (ASX: BKL) also expanding into the infant formula market, China is now introducing a range of new regulations which will make it more difficult for foreign businesses to sell their infant formula into the Chinese market.

Those regulations have caused plenty of volatility for the share prices of the three companies mentioned, with investors now doubting the companies’ long-term growth prospects. Hence, the lack of updates more recently on the regulations front is good news for investors.

Despite the regulations, Bellamy’s still appears well placed to generate strong growth results. To begin with, the new e-commerce tax on goods bought via foreign websites will have a very small effect on purchases with transactions greater than 500 Chinese yuan (roughly $105) because a 10% parcels tax on those goods will also be scrapped.

In other words, it’s likely that customers purchasing more than $105 worth of infant formula in any one transaction will barely notice the price increase. That likely describes the buying behaviour of many parents, with Bellamy’s CEO Laura McBain telling The Australian Financial Review that “it won’t have an impact on the demand for Bellamy’s going forward.”

Meanwhile, consumers have consistently shown that they are willing to pay a higher price for a quality product. So it seems likely that many of the customers with orders less than the $105 threshold will also still be willing to pay a premium.

What’s more, there are other regulations being put in place that could restrict the ability of some infant formula businesses to sell their products in China. Of course, regulations are a threat to Bellamy’s business but, assuming it does get the necessary approvals, it could also limit the ability of other potential competitors from entering the market.

Bellamy’s confirmed today that it is still on track to generate between $240 million and $260 million in revenue for financial year 2016, with margins to be in line with those achieved in the first-half of the year. Encouragingly for investors, it also reiterated that it is “well positioned for potential regulatory changes in China”.

Even at $11.43, Bellamy’s shares aren’t necessarily cheap, although they are certainly more attractive now than when they were trading as high as $16.50 in December last year. While some investors have grown sceptical of the business’ potential, long-term investors should certainly take the opportunity to do some additional research on the business.

While you're at it, you should also take a look at these three dividend shares that were recently highlighted by our resident dividend investing expert. With interest rates hovering below 2% -- and considered likely to fall even further -- they could be well worth your attention today. Simply click here to learn more about these shares.

Motley Fool contributor Ryan Newman owns shares of Bellamy's Australia. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of Bellamy's Australia. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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