Thursday, February 16, 2012

Kellogg, Pringles, and P&G

Over the past few weeks, a scandal at Diamond disrupted the firm's intent to purchase the Pringles business from P&G.   As a result, Kellogg swooped in yesterday to acquire Pringles instead.  Investors and analysts generally reacted positively to the deal.  The Kellogg stock price rose 5% on the news of the deal.  Analysts believe that Kellogg will accelerate its international growth with the Pringles purchase for two reasons.  First, many countries do not consume cereal as much as the United States.  Second, the existing snack business at Kellogg is fairly US-centric as well.  Pringles offers access to many international markets through its extensive distribution channel, as well as a product more appealing to many foreign consumers. 

While most people are focused on Kellogg today with this news, my attention has turned to P&G.  The Pringles divestiture continues a strategy undertaken by former CEO A.G. Lafley several years ago.  Lafley began to divest many of P&G's low-growth food businesses such as Jif, Crisco, and Folger's Coffee.  He refocused the firm on two categories in which it was dominant, and in which it had strong international growth prospects - i.e. health/beauty and home care/household cleaning. 

A natural question to ask:  What remaining brands might be candidates for divestiture?   I would focus on the Iams pet food business.   While the product line represents a billion dollar brand for P&G, it faces a number of challenges.  First, private labels represent strong competition in the pet food category (unlike some strong P&G categories such as razors/blades).  Wal-Mart's private label, Ol' Roy, is the top-selling dry dog food in the United States!   Second, Iams doesn't benefit from purchasing synergies with other food businesses, as some pet food brands owned by rivals do (for instance, Nestle owns the Purina family of brands, as well as a host of other businesses that procure agricultural inputs).  Third, the Iams business has not performed as well financially as many other parts of the P&G portfolio. 

No comments: