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Mead Johnson Has a Winning Formula

In fact, MJN sells products it calls adult nutrition and milk nutritional enhancers. Not surprisingly, the company also has products for expecting and breast-feeding moms, as well as specialty lines for children with special medical needs and for the management metabolic disorders.

Today, the company sells several metabolic formulas designed for the dietary management of specific conditions, including phenylketonuria, maple syrup urine disease and homocystinuria, among others. It sells its products to mothers, health-care professionals and retailers in 50 countries in North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America.

The company, which was founded in 1905 and is headquartered in Glenview, Ill., also offers a variety of specialized infant formulas that are designed specifically for feeding premature or low-birth-weight infants.

This focused-enough-yet- wide-enough product line has made a significant difference to the company's operating results, financials and the total returns of its shareholders.

The trailing 12-month return on equity is a stellar (are you sitting down) 1,240%! As of last March 31, MJN has an operating margin of over 23% and a profit margin of around 15.5%. Its revenue has grown to nearly $4 billion and it sports a market cap of around $16 billion.

As of March 31, Morgan Stanley (MS) owned more than 5% of MJN's outstanding shares of. Another institutional holder of almost 5% was Fidelity Investments , and the Vanguard Group owns another 4.6% of the company's stock.

Frankly, I was somewhat surprised that CEO Peter Jakobsen isn't a substantial owner of shares. As of May 27, outgoing CEO Stephen Golsby exercised 175,000 stock options at $26.58 a share, then he sold 93,478 shares at $86.19 for a 200%-plus profit.


Then I read a company press release from April 30 announcing that Peter K. Jakobsen, 51, had been named as president and CEO by the company's board, following the company's annual meeting the same day in Chicago. Golsby had previously announced his retirement.

"Throughout his career at Mead Johnson, Kasper has displayed a keen understanding of our operations, our customers, our markets, and the issues that drive this industry," said Jim Cornelius, the company's chairman.

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