Halting blow for major global consumer goods companies in 2009

The 50 principal global large-scale consumer goods groups saw their profitability decrease this year because of a drop in consumer purchasing power, but they should continue their acquisitions in the same manner as in 2008, according to a study by consultancy firm OC&C.



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“The decrease in purchasing power, the recession and the willingness of large consumer groups to make distributors’ brand to have bigger margins” is weighing on profitability and on the activity of larger consumer groups, stated Jean-Daniel Pick, associate at OC&C Strategy Consultants when speaking to AFP.

His study is based on the commercial performances of the 50 principal manufacturers of food and other mass consumer goods (Colgate, Palmolive, Carlsberg, Danone, Pernod Ricard, Estée Lauder, Imperial Tobacco…).

In the first four months of 2009, the operational margin of these companies was set at 16.1%, down in comparison to the same period a year earlier (17.5%).Although, 2008 already established itself as a difficult year for the sector as a result of the soaring prices of raw materials: profitability faded to 17.4%, down from 18.1% in 2007.

In the first quarter of 2009, the average turnover of these groups receded by 2.4%. Last year, they had climbed by 13.3% to their best performance in eight years, boosted by exchange rates and acquisitions, for which the total amount reached $113.3 billion ($71.2 billion in 2007).

The takeover of American brewer Anheuser-Busch by its Belgo-Brazilian competitor Inbrey for $52 billion and of Scottish & Newcastle (S&N) by Carlsberg and Heineken for €10 billion explains a large part of this increase.

In 2009, “we could witness new consolidations to strengthen the centers of activity for those who have some financial power,” said Mr Pick.

According to the OC&C ranking, the Swiss group Nestlé occupied first place in the sector in 2008 in terms of turnover, followed by the American Procter & Gamble and the Dutch group Unilever.

Tobacco manufacturers posted by, by far, the strongest operating margins; Altria (45%), Philip Morris (40%) and British American Tobacco (34%). Nestlé’s stood at 22% and Procter & Gamble at 21%.

By Jonathan Fulwell (Source: AFP)

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