The cause: an ERP change - its management software - that went awry, disrupting the entire group's organization and resulting in a $96 million write-down of its potato inventory.

A spin-off of ConAgra Foods, managed from Idaho and a partner of all the major fast-food chains, Lamb Weston is the American number one and world number two in frozen potatoes - and their derivatives such as French fries, potato chips and the like.

Its performance since the separation from its former parent company has been very good: sales grew at an average annual rate of 9% between 2017 and 2023, while, excluding the Covid episode, the EBITDA margin remained above 20% and the group returned $1.2 billion to its shareholders.

The investment program to modernize its industrial base should be completed by 2025. By 2026, Lamb Weston should be in a position to generate at least $1.3-$1.4 billion in operating cash flow, with normalized annual investments of around $700 million per year.

This suggests a capacity to generate $600-$700 million in free cash flow by 2026. This projection is related to the company's current market capitalization of $11.5 billion.

Lamb Weston's capital structure is quite aggressive, with almost three times as much debt as equity, and 40% of debt at variable rates. However, net debt represents a multiple of x2.3 EBITDA, and there are no major repayment dates before 2027.

On the basis of its enterprise value - market capitalization plus net debt - Lamb Weston is valued at less than nine times its expected EBITDA in two years' time. Given the defensive nature of the business, some long-term investors will undoubtedly see this as an interesting entry opportunity.