Procter & Gamble Co. (PG) has been around for 180 years. But what if the P&G as Wall Street knows it now were to change significantly?
Activist investor Nelson Peltz said "you could" break up Procter & Gamble at our sister publication The Deal's corporate governance conference, but he's hoping the packaged goods giant won't have to be split apart.
Peltz, who leads insurgent fund Trian Fund Management LLC, scored a seat on the P&G board in December, a position that was offered to him via settlement after he ran the largest director-election battle in the history of proxy fights, when weighed by the packaged goods company's whopping $177.5 billion market capitalization.
"You could [break it up]," Peltz said at The Deal's 2018 Corporate Governance Conference. "I'm hoping it doesn't have to be [broken up]."
But one man's last resort is another's best case scenario.
Bernstein Research Analyst Ali Dibadj issued a note following Peltz's comments in which he outlined a new sum-of-the-parts analysis for P&G. Ultimately, Dibadj concluded that a P&G breakup could unlock between 30% and 40% upside for shareholders.
"This is something we've been arguing the company should do for five years," Dibadj told TheStreet.
"We have long argued with management and the board that a breakup of Procter & Gamble is the best operational solution for the company offering an opportunity to jolt culture, reset bureaucracies, rethink processes, accelerate decision making, align accountabilities and reduce costs," Bernstein wrote in the Friday note.
Bernstein analysts rate P&G stock outperform with a $91 price target. Dibadj contends that those shares could be worth $104 based on a sum-of-the-parts analysis using other publicly traded companies as comparisons.
But Dibadj isn't holding his breath.
"I'd be surprised if the management team decides to make a quick about face to break up the company," Dibadj said. "I think this is a longer term switch." Dibadj said he would expect it to take about 18 months from decision to completion, should P&G actually commit to breaking up the company.
And even then, Bernstein has struggled to make much traction in convincing P&G and its leadership that a breakup is the best bet.
"They're very resistant. They keep saying synergies and we look very hard to find them but we can't," Dibadj said.
The battle to open P&G's eyes to the possibility has been made easier, though, by Peltz's and Trian's involvement in company management. While Peltz said he doesn't necessarily hope for a P&G breakup, his position in the company in any case has been beneficial, at least for Dibadj's camp.
"The pressure that he's put on the company and shining a light on their issues has forced them to be aware that there's a significant amount of shareholder value that's not being unlocked," Dibadj said.
P&G stock has fallen 16.2% since the start of the year.
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