|Bid||4,397.50 x 0|
|Ask||4,399.50 x 0|
|Day's range||4,329.50 - 4,403.50|
|52-week range||3,905.00 - 5,333.00|
|Beta (5Y monthly)||0.36|
|PE ratio (TTM)||17.41|
|Earnings date||30 Jan 2020|
|Forward dividend & yield||1.43 (3.29%)|
|Ex-dividend date||31 Oct 2019|
|1y target est||45.13|
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(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Amid the grim march of the retail apocalypse, the industry has derived some hope in recent years from the rise of scores of digital-centric startups. There is cause for optimism, but there’s also reason to be skeptical of the hype surrounding these brands — not just because their business models aren’t proving durable, but also because many of them are now intertwined with the companies they are ostensibly disrupting.Consider, for example, the November announcement from supermarket behemoth Albertsons Cos. about the future of meal-kit maker Plated, which the grocer paid $200 million for only two years ago. The company said it was ending the subscription model for Plated and that its products would now simply be part of its private-label business. It’s hard to see that as anything other than a concession that the format is a dud.And that’s not the only meal-kit business that’s gone cold: Blue Apron Holdings Inc. had only 386,000 paid customers in its latest quarter, down from 646,000 in the same quarter a year earlier and 856,000 the year before that. The decline partly reflects a deliberate shift to focus on its best customers, but it’s also an indication that the long-term market for online meal-kits is just not that big.Dollar Shave Club’s low-priced, subscription-based model for grooming gear was similarly seen as a disruptive game-changer when it captured attention with a viral YouTube video in 2012. Unilever NV acquired it for $1 billion in 2016, a testament to its growing market share. But the Wall Street Journal recently reported that the digital brand is still not profitable and the consumer-products giant “has concluded that selling staples as online subscriptions doesn’t make financial sense.”Still other 2010s wunderkinds are pursuing growth in ways that don’t look so different than the playbooks embraced by their predecessors. Quip toothbrushes, Native deodorant, Bark pet toys, and Harry’s razors can all now be found in the aisles of Target stores. Men’s clothing from Bonobos and Mizzen + Main is sold at Nordstrom Inc., while beauty brand Glossier recently launched pop-ups at the department store. Everlane has brick-and-mortar stores, as does bedding brand Parachute.The result is that the term “digital-native brand” is all but meaningless. How could a startup not be digital-native in the year 2019? How are their hybrid online-and-store selling models any different from what mature brands are doing? This is not to write off this crop of retailers entirely. They have collectively snatched billions of dollars of market share from incumbents and have made some genuinely alluring products, such as the Allbirds sneakers that have spawned copycats. Mall landlords have been forced to rethink their leasing models and floor plans to accommodate their needs. But, so far, these startups are no more than spoilers for legacy brands. They’re not replacing them.The constellation of insurgents collectively is poised to open 850 physical stores over five years, according to a 2018 analysis by JLL. In other words, the entire group will add roughly as many stores as are in the Macy’s Inc. portfolio. That means their growth doesn’t come anywhere close to offsetting the massive shakeout of established chains. In 2019 alone, Coresight Research estimates, there have been 9,302 store closures.Also, if these digital brands were finding easy paths to profitability and customer growth, many more of them would probably be going public or agreeing to be acquired for dizzying sums. But IPO hopefuls such as Casper remain on the public market sidelines, and the aforementioned Dollar Shave acquisition and Edgewell Personal Care Co.’s $1.4 billion deal for Harry’s are exceptions, not the rule.Meanwhile, Bonobos founder Andy Dunn is set to exit a companywide role at Walmart Inc. a little more than two years after the big-box chain acquired his clothing brand, a change that may turn out to be a cautionary tale about the ability of these scrappy virtuosos to apply their skills within retail’s old guard.All of this leads to a bracing conclusion: The transformative power of the digitally oriented swashbucklers has been overestimated. Would-be investors and entrepreneurs, consider yourselves warned.To contact the author of this story: Sarah Halzack at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Newman at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Sarah Halzack is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the consumer and retail industries. She was previously a national retail reporter for the Washington Post.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
London's exporter-heavy FTSE 100 hit a more than four-month high on Thursday partly in response to a weaker pound, which came under pressure from fears Britain may leave the European Union without a trade deal at the end of 2020. The FTSE 100 was up by 0.4%, rising for the seventh straight session. Its gains have been supported by a breakthrough on a U.S.-China trade deal and a landslide victory for Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the British national election.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Unilever NV has made a great deal of “instilling purpose” into its products, trying to flag up the social and environmental credentials of things from Dove shower gel to Magnum ice cream to appeal to millennial consumers. It doesn’t seem to be doing much for its sales.The Anglo-Dutch company surprised the stock market on Tuesday, warning that revenue growth this year would be below its 3% to 5% range. And it won’t bounce back quickly. Unilever forecasts sales increases will be in the lower half of its target range in 2020, with most progress coming in the second half.The company said it was suffering from an economic slowdown in south Asia, particularly India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and difficult trading conditions in west Africa. Meanwhile, its big-selling north American products such as ice cream and hair care are still recovering from a sluggish period, while competition is fierce in parts of Europe.Yet Unilever must take some of the blame for its own predicament. Its rival Nestle SA has managed steady sales growth, while pulling off some canny acquisitions and disposals.After a failed takeover approach from Kraft Heinz Co. back in 2017, Unilever set the goal of lifting its operating margin from 16% to 20% by 2020. Alan Jope, the chief executive officer, could have ditched this target when he took the reins at the start of this year to give himself more firepower to invest. But it seems he’s sticking with it: The company said on Tuesday that the goal wouldn’t be affected by the sales slowdown. While Unilever insists it’s spending enough on research and development and marketing, Jope may have to back his biggest brands with more funds to make sure they’re competitive. That would have to come at the expense of margins. He also needs to decide in which categories Unilever wants to compete, and reshape its sprawling portfolio accordingly. It’s admirable that the company generates close to 60% of its sales in emerging markets, and operates in popular areas such as beauty and personal care. Unfortunately, it is also over-exposed to more sluggish food ranges such as tea and dressings.Jope could do worse than learn from Nestle’s CEO Mark Schneider. The latter has been quick to prune unwanted categories, recently selling its U.S. ice cream business to a joint venture between itself and private equity. Nestle has also been buying in its preferred product areas, such as coffee.Unilever, meanwhile, has been less bold, undertaking a plethora of small acquisitions — from fake meat to fancy laundry products. The group generated only about 0.5 percentage points of growth from its acquisitions and disposals in the first half of the financial year; Jope says he’ll slow the pace of bolt-on deals and step up disposals.If he doesn’t hurry, someone else might attempt to do some portfolio tidying for him. Kraft Heinz isn’t in a position to make another approach. But an activist investor may be tempted. Selling Unilever’s foods and refreshments business for cash is a possibility, although a demerger might be complicated by Unilever’s dual British and Dutch structure.The food unit could have an enterprise value of 55 billion euros ($61 billion), according to UBS analysts. So offloading it would generate proceeds to invest in higher growth products, while allowing the return of cash to investors. On a price-to-earnings basis, Nestle’s premium over Unilever is widening. An aggressive investor may spot a corporate purpose of their own.To contact the author of this story: Andrea Felsted at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Andrea Felsted is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the consumer and retail industries. She previously worked at the Financial Times.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
In an unscheduled trading update, Anglo-Dutch Unilever also struck a downbeat tone on its prospects for meeting its mid-term target for sales growth of 3-5% next year. "Our full-year underlying sales growth is expected to be in the lower half of the multi-year range," added Jope, who took on the top job earlier this year. Shares in Unilever were down 5.1% at 1025 GMT, while rival Nestle slipped 1.2%.
Investing.com -- Here is a summary of the most important regulatory news releases from the London Stock Exchange on Tuesday, 17th December. Please refresh for updates.
Today we are going to look at The Unilever Group (AMS:UNA) to see whether it might be an attractive investment...
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Nestle SA Chief Executive Officer Mark Schneider just proved his ability to be both strategic and creative as he methodically shapes the Swiss food giant, scooping and scraping up where he can.The company, which spans water, pet food and coffee, on Wednesday agreed to sell its U.S. ice cream business for $4 billion to Froneri, the joint venture it created three years ago with private equity group PAI Partners. The price equates to 2.2 times Nestle’s U.S. ice cream sales in 2018, similar to the multiple European rival Unilever NV achieved when it sold its spreads business to KKR & Co. almost exactly two years ago. That looks reasonable for Nestle’s unit, which includes the Haagen-Dazs brand in the U.S.With the sale, Schneider, a German-American educated at Harvard Business School, is very close to his target of changing up 10% of Nestle’s portfolio, helping to keep activist investor Dan Loeb happy. An outright sale would have been cleaner. But given that Froneri already holds Nestle’s European ice-cream assets, it was probably the easiest option.Nestle and PAI will each inject some funds into the joint venture to facilitate the deal. Even so Nestle should still receive between $3 billion and $4 billion in cash from the proceeds.Most importantly, there is scope for a fuller exit in time. PAI could acquire Nestle’s stake in the joint venture, or, more likely, the two could pursue an initial share sale for Froneri. Increasing sales growth, elevating profitability by developing Haagen-Dazs and cutting costs could potentially generate further value for Nestle in a few years’ time.That Nestle has been able to find a creative way to offload ice cream is encouraging. Schneider had already tackled many of the obvious disposal candidates within the group, including the U.S. confectionery and skincare divisions.Stay tuned for more. He may be equally imaginative with other parts of the group, such as its joint ventures in cereals with General Mills Inc., the U.S. maker of Cheerios, and in chilled dairy with Lactalis International, the French milk and cheese company.For example, Nestle has a few more ice cream divisions in Canada, Latin America and Asia that could be folded into Froneri in due course. But it’s likely Nestle didn’t want to rush it to avoid a bout of indigestion. There are other disposal candidates elsewhere in the group. It is already selling its Herta cooked meats business, while Bloomberg News has reported that it’s weighing the $1 billion sale of two Chinese brands.At least some parts of the U.S. frozen-food division, such as pizzas, could be put on the block, although Nestle has so far stressed its commitment to staying in the business of frozen food. It doesn’t want to miss out on the latest trends with people cooking less and cutting down on meat, which has created a boom in vegetarian and vegan dishes. And although Nestle has restructured its waters business, indicating it wants to keep this division rather than offload it, it could always decide to carve out for sale the part that delivers bottles and dispensers directly to homes and offices.And of course there is Nestle’s stake in L’Oreal SA, although so far the group has remained committed to this. Nestle doesn’t need the money. Even with returning $20 billion to shareholders, year-end net debt is estimated just 1.4 times Ebitda. Deleveraging isn’t part of the strategy, indicating further capital returns. A wild card would be a big deal, for example in medical nutrition.In the meantime, it’s a question of delivering on Schneider’s strategy of steering a steady course between revenue-driven start-ups that make little profit and companies that prioritize margin expansion at the expense of investing in growth. So far, this has paid off for Nestle shareholders, with the stock up 27% this year. But the turn of events may be slightly worrying for Magnum owner Unilever, which now faces a more muscular competitor in ice cream.While Schneider has exhibited laser-like focus in M&A, Unilever’s relatively new CEO Alan Jope and incoming chairman, Nils Andersen, face the challenge of integrating the plethora of small acquisitions the Anglo-Dutch owner of Ben & Jerry’s has made over the past few years, all while trying to elevate sales growth.That was already a tall order. Now they’ll need to add avoiding a malfunction in the frozen aisle to their to-do list.To contact the author of this story: Andrea Felsted at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Melissa Pozsgay at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Andrea Felsted is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the consumer and retail industries. She previously worked at the Financial Times.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Stockopedia’s own data points to a jarringly simple stock market truth amidst the daily whirlwind of financial data: share prices that have gone up tend to kee8230;