Trian Partners, led by Nelson Peltz, has taken a stake amounting to 6.42 million shares in the consumer products giant, according to a new regulatory filing Tuesday evening. It will reportedly seek discussions with management. News of the stake and Trian's plans was first reported by CNBC.
"We welcome the investment in P&G," a P&G spokesman told TheStreet via email. Shares rose as much as 2% in pre-market trading on Wednesday.
Peltz may have a tough time stating his likely case that P&G shares are undervalued.
The company's most recent earnings came in at $1.08 a share, above analysts' projections of $1.06 per share. Revenue for the period was $16.86 billion, higher than the consensus estimate for $16.80 billion. Organic sales increased 2%, in line with forecasts.
Organic sales and organic volume increased in all five business segments.
P&G also upped its full-year organic sales growth outlook to be between 2% and 3% from prior guidance for an increase of about 2%. The company maintained its expectation for core earnings per share growth of mid-single digits.
Executives took a more cautious stance on the outlook for the year ahead, however, on a call with reporters.
P&G Chief Financial Officer Jon Moeller said the company decided to maintain its profit outlook "for now", and then cited "geopolticial disruption" and general macroeconomic turbulence as key risks. Moeller added that P&G will continue to cut costs in order to counteract some of these headwinds.
On an earnings call with analysts, Moeller pointed out the company is dealing with an "unprecedented" amount of geopolitical disruption and uncertainty, which is impacting market growth, currency and commodities. He specifically called out "difficult operating environments" in markets such as Nigeria, Egypt, Turkey and Argentina.
Economic crises in Egypt and Nigeria are dramatically impacting category size, while market contractions in Russia, Argentina and Turkey pose "real challenges," he said. The company has also had to manage the market impacts of politically-related currency devaluation in places such as the U.K. and Mexico.
Trian's Nelson Peltz
Another source of concern: increasing promotional activity and slowing at major U.S. retailers, where P&G products dominate aisles. "Your observation is true about increasing promotions in some categories," Moeller told TheStreet, adding that not all categories were feeling pressure.
"We will be competitive on price," Moeller said. But he noted the company will not lead with promotions as a way to grow market share as that is not a sustainable method and there is "nothing proprietary" about it.
Lauren Lieberman, managing director of equity research at Barclays, said the second-quarter earnings are "probably the most solid set of numbers we have seen from P&G in some time." She added that it is "encouraging" to see the company boost its organic revenue forecast for the year.
Meanwhile, the maker of Crest toothpaste and Gillette razors closed last fall on a $15 billion deal to slice off 40 underperforming beauty brands that subsequently merged with Coty (COTY) - Get Coty Inc. Class A Report . With the closing of the beauty divestiture, P&G completed its massive portfolio overhaul announced more than two years ago targeted toward cutting 100 non-core brands.
Since 35-year P&G veteran David Taylor took over from long-time CEO A.G. Lafley on Nov. 1, 2015, shares of Procter & Gamble have gained a solid 15%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average -- where P&G is a component -- has risen by about 14.8% during Taylor's tenure.
"New CEO Taylor is appropriately managing the business, and is addressing the three major buckets that Trian could address such as portfolio alignment, costs and the top line," wrote RBC analyst Nik Modi. "P&G already has an activist, in CEO Taylor," Modi added.
Others on Wall Street aren't totally convinced P&G is moving quick enough to drive shareholder value. As a result, Trian could make a compelling case for P&G being in need of splitting itself up.
"While P&G has taken sensible steps to enhance shareholder value recently, perceived value of a P&G breakup is likely to re-emerge," said Jefferies analyst Kevin Grundy. According to Grundy, Peltz's presence may lead to greater -- and faster -- realization of cost-savings while also raising the execution bar for P&G executives.
Updated from Feb. 14 with analyst comments.