Unilever’s (UL) standing with consumers is rock-solid. About 2 billion customers use a Unilever product each day, making the company the world’s No. 3 player in the consumer staples segment.
UL’s brands range across four major areas: Personal Care (Dove, Axe), Home Care (Surf), Foods (Knorr, Hellmann’s) and Refreshment (Lipton). With its global scale — which stretches across more than 190 countries — the company gets the benefits of pricing power, economies of scale and leverage on distribution.
But UL has not rested on its laurels. CEO Paul Polman came on board in 2009 and has been working hard to reduce bureaucratic layers, cut back on waste, improve the supply chain and implement new information technology systems.
Going forward, Unilever is nicely positioned to benefit from the growth in emerging markets, as it has had a presence in countries like Brazil, China, India and Indonesia for more than 50 years.
For the past year, Unilever’s operating cash flows came to more than $9 billion, which helps fund a 3.5%-yielding dividend.