UL - Unilever PLC

NYSE - NYSE Delayed Price. Currency in USD
62.93
+0.60 (+0.96%)
At close: 4:02PM EDT
Stock chart is not supported by your current browser
Previous Close62.33
Open62.84
Bid62.01 x 800
Ask0.00 x 1800
Day's Range62.68 - 63.06
52 Week Range50.80 - 63.45
Volume498,934
Avg. Volume759,971
Market Cap168.854B
Beta (3Y Monthly)0.54
PE Ratio (TTM)24.90
EPS (TTM)2.53
Earnings DateN/A
Forward Dividend & Yield1.77 (2.90%)
Ex-Dividend Date2019-05-02
1y Target Est60.00
Trade prices are not sourced from all markets
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    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Nelson Peltz’s latest investment target is a big, slow-moving target with a massive bullseye on its back. The renowned U.S. activist has zoned in on Ferguson Plc, a plumbers’ merchant formerly known as Wolseley. His gripe is that the company trades at a stubborn discount to American peers. The snag is that remedies aren’t easy to administer.Ferguson is among the handful of U.K.-domiciled, London-listed blue-chips that aren’t really British companies. Some – such as BTG Plc or Firstgroup Plc – have already attracted takeover or activist interest. North America generates 87% of Ferguson’s revenue; the company recently changed its name to that of its U.S. subsidiary; it reports in dollars.The one un-American characteristic is the valuation. Ferguson has traded at a consistent discount to U.S. peers such as Home Depot Inc. and Lowe’s Cos Inc. The obvious explanation is that the company is listed on the wrong exchange, which makes it harder to attract its natural investor base. But that’s not the only interpretation. The valuation may also reflect a lack of faith in Ferguson’s strategy or management, or some challenges unique to its business. Either way, the discount slightly narrowed on Thursday after the disclosure that various Peltz funds had amassed a 6% stake. This pushed the stock up 6%, valuing the group at 13 billion pounds ($16 billion).It is hard to know whether Ferguson would get a higher valuation if it just moved its listing. Markets may not be 100% efficient, but capital is global and location can’t be the only explanation for the lack of investor love here. True, some funds are restricted geographically in where they can put money but that’s unlikely to be a huge factor in holding back demand for Ferguson shares.Such restrictions on funds might, though, be an obstacle to engineering a move for Ferguson. Unilever Plc’s plan to simplify its Anglo-Dutch structure into a single Netherlands company would have seen it lose its spot on the FTSE 100. That irked index investors and those with mandates to hold U.K. stocks who would have been forced to sell their shares. The plan foundered.Unilever wasn’t a one-off. Re-domiciling headquarters or listings has long been controversial. The textbook case is the thwarted migration of car parts maker LucasVarity back in the late 1990s from the U.K. to the U.S. For these changes, existing investors generally demand a premium. The cleanest way to achieve a move is to take the company private, then relist it.More pertinent are worries about the company’s resilience in the face of a U.S. slowdown. U.S. organic growth is slowing from a recent high single-digit percentage clip, while margins have barely improved since 2015, UBS analysts point out. The share price seems to be assuming that Ferguson’s long-run sustainable operating margin is just 5%, according to independent research provider Willis Welby, which argues that this is overly pessimistic.Peltz’s pitch is that he likes to engage with the management of his portfolio companies. Ferguson has responded diplomatically that it looks forward to dialogue, as it does with all shareholders. The mere presence of such a big name has got people excited. The tougher job will be convincing investors that the company’s equity story – twinning organic growth with a strategy of acquiring competitors – is still a winner. That case has yet to be made.To contact the author of this story: Chris Hughes at chughes89@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at jboxell@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Chris Hughes is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering deals. He previously worked for Reuters Breakingviews, as well as the Financial Times and the Independent newspaper.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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  • Financial Times13 days ago

    New Unilever CEO Jope banks on recovery in sales growth

    Unilever chief executive Alan Jope has for the first time offered hope that the maker of Dove soaps and Magnum ice creams will next year escape a period of stagnant sales that has dogged one of the world’s largest consumer goods groups. In his first interview since taking the top job at the £140bn company, Mr Jope signalled that the centre of gravity at the Anglo-Dutch group would shift further from food to the higher-margin beauty and personal care market. “This year we’ve set the guidance in the 3 to 4 per cent range, and I would hope that next year we would start to edge that up,” Mr Jope said.

  • Unilever says Vietnam, Bangladesh among next 'growth stars'
    Reuters14 days ago

    Unilever says Vietnam, Bangladesh among next 'growth stars'

    "The combination of quite a big population, strong GDP growth and rapid consumption in the categories we sell means that countries like Vietnam, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and even Ethiopia will be our growth stars over the next few years," Jope told the Deutsche Bank Global Consumer conference in Paris. "These are going to be very important for the future and we are investing heavily," he said.

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  • PR Newswire20 days ago

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  • Unilever North America Headquarters Receives LEED Platinum Certification for Sustainability
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    The newly redeveloped Unilever North America headquarters building in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., has received LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the highest level of LEED certification available for sustainable buildings. The certification process assesses buildings across several categories including: location and transportation, sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, innovation and more.

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