Friday, September 19, 2008

Consumer Products Companies Lower Growth Targets

The uncertainty in the economy is forcing consumer products companies to lower their revenue growth targets for the upcoming 12 months to 3.2 percent in the second quarter from 5.7 percent in the prior quarter, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers' Consumer Products.

Despite the drop in growth targets, senior executives from the 59 large, consumer products businesses surveyed do not anticipate a drop in revenue contributions from international sales. The projected contribution from international sales for the next 12 months rose one point from the prior quarter to 26 percent, which represents a jump of seven points from a year ago, as the U.S. economy weakened. In the second quarter, 61 percent of consumer products companies increased sales abroad and only 6 percent reported a decline.

An Uncertain Outlook Optimism about the 12-month outlook for the U.S. economy remained low among senior executives of consumer products companies. Only 17 percent of respondents are optimistic about the U.S. economy versus 19 percent in the first quarter of 2008 and a steep decline from the 53 percent that were optimistic in the second quarter of 2007. Uncertainty about the world economy also increased for respondents selling abroad, with only 17 percent expressing optimism, down from 33 percent during the first quarter.

As I have been telling you, you should not find it surprising that major consumer products companies are focusing their efforts on international markets to boost sales, given the weak economy in the United States. Yet despite international markets continuing to show positive growth for consumer products companies, we are beginning to see optimism wane as the impact of the U.S. economy begins to influence international markets.

Barriers to Growth Nearly all consumer products companies are now feeling the impact of higher oil/energy prices, with 93 percent citing it as their major barrier to growth over the next 12 months, up from 79 percent in the first quarter of 2008. Concerns about oil/energy prices as a barrier to growth remain much higher among consumer products companies than among the all-industry consensus, where 71 percent were concerned. Consumer products executives also cited lack of demand, the monetary exchange rate (the falling U.S. dollar), and increasing concern about profitability as major barriers to growth during the next 12 months, which is consistent with what they have reported in the prior two quarters.

Rising Costs and Prices Overall, both costs and prices rose sharply in the second quarter. Costs increased for 85 percent of consumer products companies and decreased for only 3 percent -- a net of 82 percent with higher costs, which is 18 points higher than the prior quarter. A net 63 percent of companies increased prices this quarter (70 percent raising prices and 7 percent lowering prices), jumping 14 points from the first quarter. These are the largest quarter-to-quarter increases in both costs and prices since the Consumer Products Barometer began three years ago.

''With the rise in commodity prices and the challenges raised with a weak economy, consumer products companies have to develop new strategies to remain successful,'' notes Lisa Feigen Dugal, North American retail and consumer industry advisory leader. “This could include rebalancing their product portfolios, resizing packaging, reformulating products and managing transportation costs as they try to reign in expenditures and curtail the necessity for price increases.''

Capital Investments Fewer consumer products businesses are planning major new investments of capital during the next 12 months, with only 37 percent reporting as such in the second quarter. This represents a drop of 8 points from 45 percent last quarter and notable decline of 14 points from the 51 percent reported in the second quarter of 2007.

Conversely, the mean investment of those companies that expect to spend more rose to 9.7 percent of total sales, the highest level reported in more than a year and much higher than the all-industry consensus of 8.1 percent reported in the second quarter of 2008.

New Markets More than two-thirds of consumer products companies plan to undertake a new business initiative in the upcoming 12 months (68 percent), up 16 points from the first quarter of 2008. Expansion into new markets abroad garnered the most interest, with 37 percent planning to undertake this initiative within the next 12 months. Plans for M&A activity rose to 32 percent from 28 percent in the prior quarter with the majority of those companies planning to purchase another business and only a small number planning an equity carve-out or spin-off.
Survey InformationPricewaterhouseCoopers' Consumer Products Barometer is a quarterly survey of top executives in 59 large, consumer products businesses (surveys conducted between May 12, 2008 and August 12, 2008) compared with the 129 large, multinational company consensus.

Profile of Consumer Product Barometer Demographics:
• Average No. of Employees: 6,365• Average Revenues: $3.35 billion• Average Enterprise Revenues: $10.09 billion• Market Capitalization: $11.46 billion

Larson note: Keep in mind that this survey is pre-financial market fallout and most companies are sitting scratching their heads looking for leadership form someone, anyone. Where are the leaders? Irene Becker where are you?

How long have I been tilling you to get involved with exporting companies? Another quick reminder, any company that has real cost saving ideas and products in energy and transpiration is worth hooking onto. Again a growth area.

Are you a sitter or a player? Forget the stock market and invest in YOU because you make a difference to you and your company

Howard Larson
Larson & Associates
Target Marketing & Telesales Professionals for new account acquisition
Making good businesses great and great businesses even better

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