The latest Form 13F filing of Nelson Peltz’s hedge fund, Trian Fund Management L.P., revealed a $3 billion-plus investment in Procter & Gamble Co. (PG). Reports suggest this is the single largest investment Trian Fund Management has ever made. P&G, the maker of Gillette razors and Tide detergent, said it welcomed the investment from Mr. Peltz’s hedge fund.
Trian’s investment comes at a time when P&G is struggling to find a catalyst to boost its stock price. P&G stock has underperformed the S&P 500 since 2003, with P&G's shares rising 107% since the beginning of 2003 versus S&P 500’s 157.6% rise. Since the beginning of 2015, P&G stock has only risen 0.51%, compared to S&P 500’s 13.75% over the same period. Perhaps it could have been worse but the stock has gained roughly 16% since the beginning of 2016.
Investors will be hoping that Mr. Peltz’s activism can help push P&G's stock price to a level where it starts beating the broader market again.
Recall that P&G has been streamlining its business, selling off over 100 brands to focus on its core businesses – about 10 categories. This has eroded roughly 22% of its top line since 2012. It’s worth noting, though, that its profit has been increasing with its net income growing by roughly 58.7% since 2015.
Despite the improving profitability, there’s this niggling feeling that P&G is being left behind. Bloomberg’s Shelly Banjo pointed out that P&G hasn’t made any acquisitions since 2012, with its last big bet being the $57.3 billion acquisition of Gillette in 2005. The deal gave P&G about 60% of the razor market. Banjo also pointed out that Unilever garnered 15% of the razor market with just $1 billion when it acquired Dollar Shave Club in 2016.
She believes Mr. Peltz, being known as a deal maker, could help P&G make smart acquisitions.
Peltz is also known for advising companies to cut costs and spend capital judiciously. So investors can expect him to push P&G to speed up its cost cutting activities. He might also encourage P&G to adopt zero-based budgeting, in which every expense for certain reporting periods must be justified.