Newell to Streamline Portfolio to Core Assets

The restructuring would create a “stronger, simpler, faster Newell,” but the company's shares drop more than 20%.
Matthew HellerJanuary 25, 2018

Newell Brands shares fell sharply on Thursday, hitting a five-year low, after the consumer products company unveiled a sweeping restructuring plan that could involve selling businesses and closing half of its factories and warehouses.

The announcement of the plan came less than two years after Newell acquired Jarden for $13.22 billion, combining two consumer giants with vast portfolios. “Investors at the time questioned how difficult it would be to integrate a collection of brands spanning Elmer’s Glue, Sharpie Pens and Yankee Candle,” CNBC noted.

As part of the restructuring, Newell will focus on nine core businesses with about $11 billion in sales and $2 billion in EBITDA. The company reported sales of $13.26 billion in 2016.

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“Strategic options” will be explored for all Newell’s industrial and commercial product assets, including Waddington, Process Solutions, and Rubbermaid Commercial Products, and for the smaller consumer businesses, including Rawlings, Goody, and Rubbermaid Outdoor.

The company said execution of the plan would result in a “focused portfolio leading consumer-facing brands with attractive margins and growth potential in global categories” and reduce its global factory and warehouse footprint by 50%.

“We believe [the plan] will make us more effective at unlocking value and responding to the fast-changing retail environment,” Newell CEO Michael Polk said in a news release.

After the merger with Jarden, Newell’s stock peaked at $54.89 in August 2016. But in November, Newell reported dismal quarterly results, sending its shares down 27% to $30.01.

For full-year 2017, the company is now predicting “core” sales will increase only 0.8%, compared to its previous forecast of 1.5% to 2%.

Polk has blamed struggling retailers, weak back-to-school sales, and the bankruptcy of Toys R Us for Newell’s woes. The restructuring, he said Thursday, would create “a stronger, simpler, faster Newell” that “better positions us to win in these dynamic times.”

But in trading Thursday, the shares took another hit, plummeting 20.3% to $24.90 — their lowest level in five years. “Put simply, we’ve lost confidence,” Barclays analyst Lauren Lieberman wrote in a client note. “Today, uncertainty dominates our thought process.”