One of India's largest processed food companies, Nestle India, continues to grow steadily. The company has reported nearly 9% topline growth during 3QFY04, in a segment where its FMCG peers are hard pressed for growth. What's more, the company has finished the quarter with a significant 72% bottomline growth, propelled by extraordinary income in the form of a provision write back (Rs 129 m)
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The company's domestic sales grew strongly at nearly 10% during the quarter. The consolidated nine month revenue growth in the domestic market is also up by a similar 10%, underlining the consistency in growth during the current year. The performance has largely come about owing to the company's healthy showing in culinary (Maggi), baby foods (Cerelac), as well as dairy products (largely milk).
Nestle's export performance was however, lacklustre (up 1.7%). Though the company benefited from higher green coffee prices, it was largely offset by a shift in demand towards low realisation bulk packs. The company expects this trend to continue. The company's operating margins saw a significant 230 basis points to nearly 20%, largely an effect of lower staff costs (down 22%). This was because during last year September quarter, the staff costs were up 52% YoY owing to revaluation of retirement benefit liabilities.
The extraordinary expense of Rs 172 m in 3QFY03 represents a write down on assets employed in its water business. The said assets are now valued at just over Rs 27 m. Excluding extraordinary items in both corresponding quarters, Nestle at the PBT (profit before tax and extraordinary items) level has still grown by a healthy 24% YoY during 3QFY04.
Impairment of fixed assets
At the current price of Rs 566, the stock trades at 18.8x annualised 9mFY04 earnings, market cap to sales of 2.4x. Nestle is one the fastest growing consumer companies in India and is very focused on the food processing space. The company continues to grow owing to its strategy of introducing new products at lower price points. The concern over the long term for the shareholders is the management's continued hiking of stake in the company (stands at nearly 62%). This points to the preference of the parent towards taking Nestle India 100% private (much like Cadbury).
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