Beyond Meat faces its biggest test as a public company after the closing bell on Thursday

The Beyond Meat IPO at the Nasdaq Marketsite.The Beyond Meat IPO at the Nasdaq Marketsite.Drew Angerer/Getty Images

  • Beyond Meat will report first-quarter earnings after the closing bell on Thursday, its first release after its initial public offering in May.
  • Analysts from JPMorgan and Jefferies have maintained their price targets of $97 and $85 respectively ahead of the report.
  • Shares of Beyond have gained more than 300% since the May IPO.
  • Watch Beyond Meat trade live.

Beyond Meat, the best-performing US initial public offering of the year, reports its first-quarter earnings Thursday after the bell. It will be the company's first earnings release since it listed as a public company in May.

Here is what analysts surveyed by Bloomberg expect:

  • Earnings per share: loss of $0.15 expected
  • Revenue: $39 million expected
Analysts will be looking for signs that Beyond's meteoric share-price increase is warranted. Before the market open on Thursday, Beyond sat above $100 per share, a 301% increase from its IPO price of $25 and 118% above $46, where it started trading in May.

But few experts are expecting another huge bump from earnings on Thursday.

"I do not see a very large move up because so much of what is good about the stock is out there," said Sandeep Dahiya, an associate professor at Georgetown University who focuses on corporate finance.

The company has broad-based momentum in its business and the market expects that a partnership with McDonald's will come through, wrote a team of Jefferies equity analysts led by Kevin Grundy in a note to clients. They maintained their "hold" rating and a price target of $85 on the stock ahead of earnings.

"We expect few surprises," the team wrote on May 31. They will be looking for an upward revision to Beyond's outlook, saying that simply reaffirming prior views would be "met with disappointment by the market."

While this is the first company report investors will see from Beyond as a public company, the company has not been without prior tests. Shares sank as much as 7% Monday on the news that Nestle, a major competitor, would release its own veggie burger in the US. Earlier on Thursday, shares of the company fell more than 2% following a report that some grocery stores aren't sure its products belong in the meat aisle.

Analysts will look for an update on how Beyond will meet demand going forward, amid the massive popularity of plant-based burgers. According to The Wall Street Journal, Beyond and rival Impossible Foods are struggling as fast-food joints such as Burger King, KFC, Del Taco and Tim Hortons add vegan options to their menus. This isn't the first time that a shortage has plagued the company.

There is huge potential for growth if Beyond can meet demand. Its share price could see an additional 30% bump if it strikes a deal with McDonald's, according to Jefferies.

In addition, plant-based meat sales could exceed $100 billion in the next 15 years, wrote Ken Goldman and James Allen of JPMorgan wrote in a May 28 note to clients. That means Beyond would grow its revenue to $15 billion in the next 15 years, they added.

"We do not believe this opportunity is fully priced in, despite the rally post-IPO," Goldman and Allen wrote. The analysts initiated coverage of the stock with an "overweight" rating and a $97 price target.

If earnings miss expectations, there's the potential for "devastation," Dahiya said. "You could see a dramatic correction of share price if the growth expectations are not met."

But there's a lot more evidence that consumers are ready and the demand is there, said Dahiya. "Can this opportunity be exploited in a profitable and sustainable way?"

Shares of Beyond Meat are up roughly 300% year-to-date.

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