Shares of PepsiCo, Inc. (PEP - Free Report) fell almost 2% on Friday, May 13, after activist investor Nelson Peltz’s investment company, Trian Fund Management, reportedly exited its stake in the company.
Trian Fund Management held major stake in Pepsi. In 2013, Peltz launched a campaign against Pepsi, pressurising the food/beverage giant to separate its underperforming beverage business from the stronger snacks business. However, Pepsi’s board repeatedly rejected Peltz’s proposal arguing that the two businesses were better together. Pepsi’s share price picked up and its results have also been strong since then.
Pepsi’s share price has surged 65% since Jan 2013. The company also delivered strong results in the past couple of years. Pepsi’s advertising/marketing and innovation plans helped it deliver an overall healthy performance in the three years from 2013 to 2015 – either achieving or exceeding most of its financial goals in the years – despite the tough macroeconomic environment. Also, per management, 2015 was possibly the best financial year in terms of performance by its North American Beverage (NAB) business in recent times. Improving economy, better industry pricing dynamics and consistent positive innovation drove the upside. Pepsi was successful in maintaining its growth momentum in the first quarter of 2016 as well.
Therefore, Peltz had to drop his appeal to split Pepsi’s business. According to latest reports, Trian Fund Management mentioned that Pepsi has effectively addressed many operational issues identified by it. Pepsi has increased productivity efforts, reduced overhead, increased advertising investments, and delivered consistent earnings growth.
In 2013, Peltz, pushed Pepsi to buy global snacks company Mondelez International, Inc. (MDLZ - Free Report) . However, he put off this agenda after joining the Pepsi’s board in Jan 2014. Trian Fund Management also holds major stake in Mondelez.
In Jan 2015, Pepsi appointed Peltz’s nominee, William R. Johnson, to its board of directors. Johnson previously served as chief executive officer (CEO) of H.J. Heinz Company – now The Kraft Heinz Company (KHC - Free Report) – and was also an advisory partner of Trian Fund Management.
Pepsi carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). A better-ranked beverage stock is Primo Water Corporation (PRMW - Free Report) with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).
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