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Analyse aandeel Unilever

Unilever heeft een grote voorsprong op concurrenten die voortkomt uit zijn wereldwijde distributienetwerk en portefeuille met essentiële producten. (Engelstalig rapport)

Erin Lash, CFA 05 november, 2014 | 10:46

INVESTMENT THESIS

We think Unilever's wide moat stems from its expansive global distribution platform and portfolio of essential products. Despite these competitive advantages, the firm remains on the offensive and continues to put resources behind product innovation (launching new products that span the gamut of its portfolio with Knorr Stock Pot bouillon, Dove Repair Expertise hair care, Persil concentrated liquid detergent, and Lipton Yellow Label with tea essence), marketing, and cost-saving initiatives. In our view, this spending is driving balanced and profitable growth, in contrast to several peers, as sales reflect higher prices and increased volume--a notable achievement in this difficult operating landscape.

In the past, an extremely decentralized and complex structure hindered Unilever's ability to realize the growth and profitability that should exude from one of the largest consumer packaged goods players. Unilever's use of a local go-to-market strategy initially failed to generate a clear global strategy, and at the same time, the firm was unable to leverage the scale advantages that should have come from its brands, facilities, and employees. However, management has sought to reduce the complexity of its operations over the past few years by streamlining its IT systems, improving marketing efficiency, and leveraging its purchasing scale--efforts that appear to be gaining some traction, as profits have generally held up despite cost pressures.

Unilever's status as a giant consumer product firm resulted partly from its foresight to secure a first-mover advantage internationally, particularly in fast-growing emerging markets, where it derives about 57% of consolidated sales. We would not be surprised to see Unilever pursue acquisitions in these faster-growing markets, but with several consumer product firms looking to developing markets for expansion, valuation multiples could trend to irrationally high levels, making such deals less beneficial. We also see the potential, though, for Unilever to grow organically in these regions, similar to selling Alberto Culver's offerings into Brazil, which has been one of the firm's most successful launches.


VALUATION

Economic Moat   Fair value   Stewardship Rating   Unilever
Wide   EUR 33,00   Standard   
Moat Trend   Uncertainty   Sector  
Stable   Medium  

Defensieve consumptiegoederen - verpakte goederen

 

BULLS

  • Unilever's new products are winning with consumers, as it recorded a 14% increase in Domestos' (a 60-year-old brand) sales and a nearly 5% jump in Hellmann's (which is 100 years old).

  • Management has cited the launch of TRESemme in Brazil added nearly EUR 150 million to its top line, making it one of Unilever's most successful launches in history.

  • We expect Unilever will continue to actively manage its brand portfolio. During the past six years, the firm shed EUR 2.5 billion in sales (mostly food brands), while completing nearly EUR 3 billion in acquisitions (primarily personal care).

 

 

BEARS

  • For the first time in 85 years, Unilever was forced to issue a recall (AdeS soy in Brazil) last year, which reduced sales by EUR 60 million-EUR 70 million.

  • Beyond slowing growth, foreign currencies have hindered the firm's top-line growth, as the firm reported a high-single-digit hit to sales through the first six months of fiscal 2014.
  • Unilever has not always been an astute acquirer, as evidenced by the acquisition of Slim-Fast in 2000 for $2.3 billion. Management recently sold off this lagging brand, after writing off around one third of the purchase price 10 years earlier.

 

 

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Effecten genoemd in dit artikel

Naam effectPrijsChange (%)Morningstar Rating
Nestle SA102,94 CHF-0,14
Procter & Gamble Co125,47 USD0,72

Over de auteur

Erin Lash, CFA  Erin Lash, CFA, is a senior stock analyst with Morningstar.

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