Unilever: U.K.'s Go-To Company

By Investopedia Staff | January 26, 2011 AAA

Investors looking to gain great exposure to global consumers should consider taking a closer look at Unilever (NYSE: UL), one of U.K.'s leading consumer conglomerates. In fact, investors could consider Unilever a more direct play on markets outside the U.S.

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Impressive Footprint
When thinking of global consumer companies, Unilever stands side by side with giants such as Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG), Kraft Foods (NYSE: KFT) and, to a lesser extent, names like Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) and General Mills (NYSE: GIS). Yet Unilever's U.K. roots give the company a much more direct channel to many of today's fastest-growing markets. Today, over 50% of Unilever's sales come from developing and emerging markets. The company's products cover the entire socio-economic ladder. Its U.K. roots are overshadowed by the fact that many of the most popular names in markets like the U.S. are owned by Unilever - names like Ben & Jerry's ice cream, Lipton Tea and Dove personal care products.

Numbers Tell It All
In addition to brands more well-known in the U.S., Unilever is the world's No.1 company in categories like ice cream, teas and deodorants. It's the world's No.2 in categories like laundry and daily health care. The company boasts approximately a dozen brands that generate revenues of over $1 billion. Despite a massive market cap, Unilever has worked to realign itself for a future of increasing growth.

Strength And Growth
Looking ahead, Unilever is in an excellent position to deliver solid growth, cash flow and return on invested capital over the next several years. The new growth period comes at a critical time in our economy, with consumers delaying all purchases except those made by the likes of Unilever.

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