• OCTOBER 23, 2002

Colgate: Cost squeeze aids bottomline

Colgate Palmolive India (Colgate) continues with its bottomline growth led by operating efficiencies. But concerns over topline dip continue to haunt the oral care major. In September quarter, the company has reported a 10% dip in topline, but logged in a 15% growth in net profit.

(Rs m) 2QFY02 2QFY03 Change 1HFY02 1HFY03 Change
Net Sales (incl. Excise duty) 2,930 2,640 -9.9% 5,996 5,262 -12.2%
Other Income 94 58 -38.3% 165 122 -26.1%
Expenditure 2,720 2,305 -15.3% 5,560 4,624 -16.8%
Operating Profit (EBDIT) 210 335 59.5% 436 638 46.3%
Operating Profit Margin (%) 7.2% 12.7%   7.3% 12.1%  
Interest 2 1 -50.0% 4 1 -75.0%
Depreciation 40 52 30.0% 82 104 26.8%
Profit before Tax 262 340 29.8% 515 655 27.2%
Tax 97 150 54.6% 192 277 44.3%
Profit after Tax 165 190 15.2% 323 378 17.0%
Net profit margin (%) 5.6% 7.2%   5.4% 7.2%  
Effective tax rate (%) 37.0% 44.1%   37.3% 42.3%  
No. of Shares (eoy) (m) 136.0 136.0   136.0 136.0  
Diluted earnings per share* 4.9 5.6   4.8 5.6  
P/E ratio   23.8     23.9  
(* annualised)            

The reason for the 15% growth in profits is a significant improvement in operating margins (by 560 basis points). This has come about largely due to efficiencies in working capital as well as pruning of the advertising expenditure. Colgate, as we know is one of the largest advertising spenders in the FMCG segment. Its ad to sales expenses are among the highest at 19% to 21%. Its ad to sales ratio during the September quarter stood at 17.4% (as compared to 23.4% in 2QFY02).

Cost break-up
as a % of net sales 2QFY02 2QFY03 1HFY02 1HFY03
Total Cost of goods 50.9% 48.8% 52.1% 49.8%
- Staff Cost 5.3% 6.0% 5.1% 6.1%
- Advertising 23.4% 17.4% 22.4% 18.3%
- Other Expenditure 13.3% 15.1% 13.2% 13.7%

The advertising spend has declined 33% YoY during September quarter. The likely reason for this seems that buying TRP is much cheaper on a YoY basis. Also, the FMCG sector is spending more on promotions (like freebies and one for one schemes). As a result, value sales are declining, but so are advertising costs.

Though Colgate's performance is encouraging from the net profit angle, the topline continues to be a concern. The oral care market continues to stagnate at 90,000 tonnes per annum (Rs 21 bn). With both HLL and Colgate facing resistance in growing this pie, growth issues continue to haunt valuations. At Rs 133 the stock trades at 24x annualised 1HFY03 earnings, market cap to sales ratio of 1.7x.

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