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The Hurricane Harvey Battery Analysis

Oct. 05, 2017 2:07 PM ETENR, BRK.A, BRK.B, SPB3 Comments
Robert Altabet profile picture
Robert Altabet


  • The alkaline battery market saw incremental sales from Hurricane Harvey; Next period will show similar category incrementals from Hurricane Irma.
  • Energizer, Duracell and Rayovac all benefited from these incremental sales.
  • These disasters remind us that disposable batteries will always have a role in people’s lives that cannot be replaced by rechargeables.
  • The critical need for retail presence in such disasters cannot be replaced by on-line sales.


Household batteries are on an emergency preparedness item for all disasters, used in flashlights and lanterns for emergency lighting. The first warnings of major storms bring consumers out for purchase of batteries, portable lighting and portable radios. The incremental category sales are typically in the millions of dollars range. While meteorologist hurricane forecasting has improved, predictions of landfall are much less reliable. We have also had a run with few landfalls in the last 10 years and not more than one landfall in a year since 2005. Energizer (ENR), Duracell (owned by Berkshire Hathaway - BRK.A, BRK.B) and Rayovac (owned by Spectrum Brand Holdings - SPB) all do extensive planning each year to assure sufficient battery inventory in place at retail to deal with such emergencies.

2017 Hurricanes

This year brings 2 hurricanes on the Atlantic coast, Harvey and Irma. With no sales data for Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands, we will not be able to evaluate that impact. We constructed a baseline for expected sales in the absence of an external event, using a +1.7% trend vs. year ago. That gives us +$41 million for retail category impact within Nielsen covered channels, translating to about 56 million retail dollars across all outlets and about $25 million in manufacturers dollars. This represents a 1.7% bump for the category on an annualized basis.

We can see the extraordinary growth here vs. year ago at +25.3% for dollars and +18.5% for units. Along the way, note that the pass through of the pricing action is holding. The next period will show us a clean picture of the Hurricane Irma impact which we expect to be in the same range based on the Nielsen mid-cycle data for the 4 weeks ending 9/23, but which includes both Harvey and Irma, at +31% in dollars. Pantry load impacts on the following periods can be a concern, but

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 am/we are long ENR. 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.

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Comments (3)

Robert Altabet profile picture
I am sorry, but the lack of electric power to recharge in an emergency seemed self explanatory to me. FEMA and the Red Cross both recommend disposable batteries for lighting and radios in emergencies.
Tom in Texas profile picture
"Emergencies like these are a reminder that disposable batteries like alkaline and Energizer’s lithium primary will always have a critical role in people’s lives that cannot be replaced by rechargeables."

I read this article to see why disposable batteries cannot be replaced by rechargeables, but no explanation provided. What am I missing here? I have not used disposables for several years.
Willow Street Investments profile picture
He means if a disaster strikes you wont have electricity to recharge rechargeables, hence the need for disposables.
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SymbolLast Price% Chg
Energizer Holdings, Inc.
Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
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