Nestle Announces Buyback Worth $8.8 Billion
Nestle SA, the largest food company in the world, will spend 8 billion Swiss francs or approximately $8.8 billion in the first share buyback in the past 36 months, after it reported growth in revenue that exceeded Wall Street estimates.
Revenue was up by 4.7% excluding any acquisitions, currency shifts and divestments during the first six months of 2014, said the Swiss based maker of Nespresso coffee and KitKats
Wall Street estimates were for an increase of 4.5%. Nestle said its stock buyback program would start in 2014 and run into the next year.
Shares at Nestle were up by 3.4%, its largest gain intraday in over 9 months.
Nestle outperformed Danone and Unilever its two main rivals in Europe in sales growth for the first half of the year and is lengthening its lead over them, by returning to shareholders cash through repurchases.
Nestle will fund the buyback through the sale of a stake it has in L’Oreal a cosmetics firm in France.
That leaves the maker of Gerber baby food with plenty of resources for any wanted acquisitions, said an industry analyst.
The sale of its L’Oreal stake will boost profit in the second half by over 7.4 million francs.
The buyback of 8 billion francs needs to be put in context said one analyst as Nestle would have the opportunity for a larger buyback of as high as 20 billion.
Unilever, the Magnum ice cream maker and owner of Lipton Tea and Danone the yogurt maker last month reported revenues that missed Wall Street estimates.
An analyst in Zurich said that the food industry has had some disappointments of late, but Nestle managed to have numbers even better than expected. The numbers are good and investors will give a positive reaction to them, but he said the stock remained expensive.
The maker of DiGiorno pizza has revamped its complete portfolio to increase sales, which in 2013 were at a four-year low.
CEO Paul Bulcke has spent over $5 billion in 2014 to build a dermatology business through acquiring the remaining part of its joint venture Galderma and the right to Valeant Pharmaceuticals drugs.