Newell Rubbermaid: New Initiatives Should Propel Growth

| About: Newell Brands (NWL)

Newell Rubbermaid (NYSE:NWL) markets an extensively diversified portfolio of consumer and commercial products. It owns a surprising number of well-known brands. The Cleaning, Organization & Décor segment produced 33% of revenues for the first half of 2007. This segment designs, manufactures, and sells semi-durable products that are used in homes and commercial venues. Offerings include indoor/outdoor organization products, home and food storage containers, material handling and refuse removal products, drapery hardware, window treatments, and blinds. Wellknown brands include Brute, Roughneck, TakeAlongs, Levolor, Kirsh, and Rubbermaid.

The Office Products segment produced 32% of first half sales. It makes writing instruments including permanent, water-based, and dryerase markers; highlighters; pencils; and ballpoint pens. It also makes correction fluids, art supplies, and ondemand labeling and card scanning solutions. Specific brands include Sharpie, Paper Mate, Parker,Waterman, uni-Ball, Liquid Paper, Mongol, Foohy, DYMO, and CardScan.

The Tools & Hardware segment generated 20% of first half sales. It sells hand tools and accessories, propane torches, solder, and paint products. Brands include Irwin,Vise-Grip, Marathon, Speedbor,Quick-Grip, Shur-Line, and Rubbermaid.

Finally, the Home & Family segment generated 15% of first half sales. It makes aluminum and stainless steel cookware, bakeware, cutlery, utensils, and kitchen gadgets; swings, high chairs, car seats, strollers, and play yards for infants and children; and hair-care accessories and grooming products. Brands include Calphalon, Kitchen Essentials, Katanna, Graco, Goody,Ace, StayPut, StylingSolutions, and ColourCollection.

Margins were under pressure in 2003 and 2004, but strategic initiatives helped turn operations around. The most significant was Project Acceleration, a three-year global restructuring plan designed to transform the company’s product portfolio and reduce overhead. The plan called for increased investments in product development and brand marketing, the closing of about 15 manufacturing facilities, and the elimination of 5,000 jobs. NWL also divested several operations including its European cookware business, its Little Tikes toy and furniture business, and its European drapery hardware and window treatment operations.

These initiatives helped boost the gross and pro forma operating profit margins to 33.38% and 11.66%, respectively, in 2006. Pro forma net income climbed 22% from 2005 to $419 million or $1.52 per share in 2006. Improving trends continued into the first half of 2007. First half sales were up 3.4% from the year-earlier period to $3.08 billion. The gross and pro forma operating profit margins improved to 35.10% and 12.50%, respectively. Pro forma net income grew 19.7% to $230.7 million or 83 cents per share.

Investment risks include softer growth in consumer and office-related spending, further weakness in residential housing, and persistent increases in raw material prices. However, management expects a 7% increase in Q3 revenues and an improvement in profit margins. Furthermore, new products such as the Infinity Smoking Management system, cordless shades, and the Premiere line of new food storage containers, should contribute to NWL’s performance.

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