Direct make-up seller Avon Products (NYSE:AVP) has been hogging the industry headlines in recent weeks. Years of mismanagement have resulted in the sacking of the CEO and a takeover bid from an industry peer that sees potential in a turnaround and the appeal of selling directly to consumers. Tupperware Brands (NYSE:TUP) focuses primarily on the direct selling of kitchen related items, but also sells beauty supplies. And, in contrast to Avon, it is extremely well managed.
In a recent presentation to investors, Tupperware touted that its business is financially sound and generates steady cash flows. Its businesses, which include kitchen storage, preparation and serving products as well as beauty and personal care products under the Armand Dupree and BeautiControl brands, are also diversified across developed and emerging economies throughout the world. The sales mix between “Tupperware Brand Housewares” and “Beauty & Personal Care Product”s stood at 74% and 26% respectively. In terms of their global sales mix, 56% of sales stemmed from growing emerging markets in 2011. The kitchen category is highly appealing and has even caught the attention of Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A) (NYSE:BRK.B) owns the higher-end Pampered Chef rival. Tupperware is a truly global firm. 90% of its sales stemmed from outside the U.S. in 2011.
Outlook and Valuation
Analysts currently project modest full year sales growth of 2.3% and total sales of approximately $2.6 billion. The average profit expectation currently stands at $5.04 per share and is expected to grow 11.7% to $5.63 per share by the end of 2013. Sales are projected to grow a slightly more robust 6.4% in 2013 to $2.8 billion. This puts the forward earnings multiples in very reasonable territory at 10.9 and 9.7 for each of the next two years.
The Bottom Line
Over the longer haul, Tupperware has a goal to grow sales between 6 and 8% annually. It also plans to cut costs by up to 50 basis points annually and eventually get pre-tax profits up to the mid to high teens. In stark contrast to Avon, management has a solid track record of delivering on its goals. Over the past decade, it has steadily whittled down SG&A expense as a percent of sales. In 2002, SG&A expense was nearly 58% of sales and fell to below 52% last year.
Over the past five years, average annual sales are up a more pedestrian 6% but profits are up more than 18% annually. Tupperware has steadily leveraged single digit sales growth into double digit profit growth for more than a decade now. Given the expectations for steady growth going forward and the compelling earnings multiple, investors concerned about controlling downside risk would be well served to consider the stock over Avon. Most growth has also been of the safer organic variety, with the last major purchase the direct selling business of Sara Lee (NYSE:SLE) back in 2005.
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At the time of writing, Ryan C. Fuhrmann did not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article.