Entering text into the input field will update the search result below

The Technology Story For Energizer

Robert Altabet profile picture
Robert Altabet


  • Energizer Holdings recently spun off the battery business, recreating the original Energizer battery.
  • Duracell is about to be transitioned from Procter & Gamble to Berkshire Hathaway.
  • Understanding the scope of potential innovation in battery technology from the big battery companies like Energizer, Duracell and Rayovac will help in assessment of opportunities.
  • The recent patent activity will help us understand the potential for one of those players to capitalize on innovation for share gain.
  • The Energizer patent portfolio suggests a pattern of developments that could lead to market share building innovation opportunity.


The household battery industry shares many of the marketing, sales and merchandizing drivers of other consumer packaged goods companies. However, those batteries are also chemical packages drawing on the science and engineering of electrochemistry. As part of large consumer package goods companies, the specialized skills and long time horizons for battery research and development were not always well understood by top management. Consumer communication of innovation are also a challenge since the physical shape of that AA battery still looks the same regardless of the power contained in that chemical package.

Alkaline battery technology, the mainstay driving innovation and increasing long life for years now shows signs of maturity with new developments seeming to hit the point of diminishing returns. New higher power devices using new rechargeable technologies have limited growth opportunities for disposable devices powered by alkaline.

The best publically available indicator of where battery technology is going is patents issued, and because the time for issuance can take so long, pending patent applications.

Patent Activity

We looked at total new patents and still pending patent applications for batteries and battery operated devices by company for 2010 through June 2015. Of this total of 374 patents, Energizer (NYSE:ENR) holds the lion's share of at 57%; Duracell (transitioning from Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG) to Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.A, BRK.B) ) had 39%. Rayovac (Spectrum Brands, NYSE: SPB), as a much smaller player, had 4%. These 3 companies dominate the battery business in North America and Western Europe.

Next we looked at types of products covered with the 109 pending patent applications since 2010 from Duracell and Energizer as the best indicator of recent work at each company. With alkaline primary (primary is the industry nomenclature for a disposable battery) as the principal product from both these companies, they had fairly comparable numbers

This article was written by

Robert Altabet profile picture
Since 2002, I have been the owner of a consulting business, Alpha Beta Planning, that specializes in the areas of business development and planning as well as sales and market forecasting. I also provide marketing and forecasting due diligence for investors in the private capital markets. I am an  Advisory Board Member for BWG Strategy, consulting on battery related companies. I am a former Vice-President, Business Management at Duracell Batteries where I spent 28 years with experience that included extensive work in new product development and licensing, marketing management, market research and sales forecasting as well stints in manufacturing and financial planning.

Analyst’s Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Seeking Alpha's Disclosure: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. Any views or opinions expressed above may not reflect those of Seeking Alpha as a whole. Seeking Alpha is not a licensed securities dealer, broker or US investment adviser or investment bank. Our analysts are third party authors that include both professional investors and individual investors who may not be licensed or certified by any institute or regulatory body.

Recommended For You

Comments (6)

My wife and I were cleaning our uninsulated garage this spring, March, 2016 and up on the rafters was a plastic bin with a sealed cover. We opened the bin and inside was a air bed pump, we turned the pump on and to our amazement it still worked, we opened the unit, inside were four D size Energizer Batteries dated 2010. We live in Minneapolis, MN WOW!
Robert Altabet profile picture
That is within the shelf life of an alkaline battery now at 10 years. And cold actually prolongs shelf life.
Robert Altabet profile picture
Hi WillieWondering, I did not mean that as a euphemism, but rather looking at real development time horizons. In typical CPG businesses and even electronics business development time horizons run at about 3 to 5 years. Chemistry developments from idea to first commercial product can run to 10 years and even 20 years. Chemistry is a much slower experimental process as chemical and pharmaceutical companies understand but CPG companies do not. Quarterly profitability goals for public companies gets in the way of many things, but I don't think this is one.
"As part of large consumer package goods companies, the specialized skills and long time horizons for battery research and development were not always well understood by top management."
Bob, the euphemism is hilarious. Why not just say quarterly profitability gets in the way of them caring about it at all?
Robert Altabet profile picture
Hi csts1, You are right, that sometimes an individual patent could be extremely important and all of these bear more detailed review to see if there are any such gems. However, most patents represent each of the small steps, so that even with a breakthrough idea, we can't be sure until we see the cumulative effect. I also expect that with the new patent environment of first to file rather than first to invent, we will see more small incremental patents for protection since companies can no longer count on the primacy of their original notes protecting the idea and allowing the stealth development of a full blown breakthrough. The 2 things I found interesting were 1. the much greater activity level from Energizer generally, and 2. the fuel cell work because it has a business model that could work just like alkaline. The concern area is the ability to translate this technical activity into a real marketable innovation. With Energizer as a focused standalone battery company I am hoping this gets better, but the track record is mixed.
Interesting that you use "number of patents/applications" as a proxy for potential for future gain. What about "potential importance" of individual patents? A single patent might revolutionize the industry, eclipsing all competition, while 100 patents from another company quickly died off in value.
Disagree with this article? Submit your own. To report a factual error in this article, . Your feedback matters to us!

About ENR

SymbolLast Price% Chg
Market Cap
Yield (TTM)
Rev Growth (YoY)
Short Interest
Prev. Close
Compare to Peers

More on ENR

Related Stocks

SymbolLast Price% Chg
To ensure this doesn’t happen in the future, please enable Javascript and cookies in your browser.
Is this happening to you frequently? Please report it on our feedback forum.
If you have an ad-blocker enabled you may be blocked from proceeding. Please disable your ad-blocker and refresh.