Nestle: Appetizing Balance Between Sales Volume and Pricing Power

| About: Nestle S.A. (NSRGY)

Stock price: SF53.1 ($49.44 US)
Conclusion: Nestle (OTCPK:NSRGY) has excellent balance between volume and pricing. Following a strong start, looking for further rerating (15%+).

Q1 sales: up 4.4% to SF26.3bn (+6.1% organic). Reconfirming guidance for 2010: sales growth above 2009, margin improvement at constant rates, SF10bn share buy back.

Q1 sales well balanced, even better than expected.

  • Volume rose mid single digit, with double digit growth in Asia, mid single digit growth in Europe and low single digit growth in Americas.
  • Good pricing power. Pricing increased by 1.6% in Q1 demonstrating that Nestle is committed to increase both top line and bottom line. Pricing increased in all regions, even in mature markets. Nestle’s product portfolio enjoys greater room for manoeuvre, notably Nespresso but also pet food, confectionery and nutrition. In addition, Nestle is providing more marketing support to its brands. Water is the only category where pricing was slightly negative, owing to private label competition in the US.
  • Weak spots doing better, notably infant nutrition in the US and in Europe, water in Europe and ice cream.
  • Recently acquired US pizza business ($2.1bn sales last year) is growing high single digit.
  • Nespresso keeps growing by 20% this year. Competition is coming in with capsules sold in retail at 15-20% discount to Nespresso. It remains to be seen whether Nespresso’s quality sourcing and superior testing and experience will prevail.

Slight upgrade in our numbers.

  • Sales growth (ex Alcon) could reach 6.3% reported driven by 6% organic, 2% from acquisitions and a negative forex impact of 1.7% (vs -2.7% in Q1).
  • Margin could improve by 30bp, even at current rates, notably in Europe and also in nutrition and in other Food & Beverage divisions including Nespresso and food service.
  • Reported EPS growth (+4%) will be held back by the deconsolidation of Alcon and higher tax rate.

Nestle’s F&B business trades at 16xP/E and 9xEV/EBITDA, implying 10% discount to European peers. We expect Nestle to further rerate by around 15% in the coming 12m.

Disclosure: Long Nestle at time of writing.