CHARMIN MAKER SQUEEZED: Activist investor Nelson Peltz is attempting to secure a seat on the board at consumer products giant Procter & Gamble. Peltz's Trian Fund Management, which owns $3.3 billion of P&G's stock, said the company's financial results over the last decade have been disappointing. Over the last few years Procter & Gamble has focused on its bigger brands and shed some of the smaller ones, but that has affected its overall sales and its stock price. The company's products include Tide detergent, Charmin toilet paper, Crest toothpaste and Dawn soaps.
It is a referendum on the leadership of a $235 billion company as its stock has languished, underperforming its peers in the last decade. The outcome could affect the future course of the 180-year-old corporation, which has more than $65 billion in annual revenue and is home to familiar household brands like Tide and Pampers. The proxy war is also a warning shot to blue-chip companies across the country that activist investors are setting their sights on ever-bigger corporate targets as they agitate for changes in strategy and structure. This year, General Motors and Tiffany & Company found themselves targeted by activists. "No company is off limits because of its size, industry, the complexity of its business or even its stock price performance," as activist investors control larger sums of assets, said Damien Park, a managing director at Spotlight Advisors, which advises companies and investors on activism.
Hi is a cannabis brand. Its logo -- "hi" in white letters inside an orange circle -- can be found above the front door of a Portland, Ore., marijuana shop and on a handful of cannabis products, including massage oil and Hi Releaf pain-relief balm. But you wouldn't guess any of that from Hi's trademark filings. In 2015, the brand's parent company, Cannabis Sativa Inc., filed a trademark application -- not for any of Hi's core products, but for hats, T-shirts and a wide array of other apparel. If the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office signs off on the application, Cannabis Sativa would be able to stop other companies from using the Hi brand on clothing, but it might not be able to stop rivals from setting up Hi-brand marijuana shops or selling knockoff Hi-brand products.
FILE - This July 9, 2015, file photo, shows signage outside Procter & Gamble corporate headquarters in downtown Cincinnati. Procter & Gamble shareholders are heading to company headquarters, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, to decide if activist investor Nelson Peltz should join its board. Peltz's Trian Fund Management has said that P&G's financial performance over the last 10 years has been disappointing.
With Amazon's explosive growth, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that Walmart is still, by a long shot, the world's largest retailer. In 2017, Walmart recorded sales worth $485 billion and earned a profit of $13 billion. Amazon recorded revenues at $178 billion with profits of $3 billion. While Amazon's growth trajectory is aimed at overtaking Walmart sooner versus later, they are still the new kid on the block, and in many ways chasing a low margin, slim profit model that was all but invented by Walmart. And that includes adopting strategies that help them to increase profits without increasing prices.