NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The Tupperware Brands (TUP) - Get Report of today is not the same as the one from the 1950s, when stay-at-home moms hawked plastic bowls and sipped on alcohol at the parties they arranged by rotary telephone.
New-school Tupperware could be seen in the company's strong fourth-quarter results in its U.S. and China businesses, both of which led investors to send the stock surging by 12% on Wednesday.
"The biggest issue we have in the U.S. is our success in the past; most people think we are what we were,"
. "But this is not your mom's Tupperware." Goings said that the Tupperware party of today "isn't a room full of stay-at-home moms, where all we did is get them away from the kids and knitting."
Tupperware's fourth-quarter performance in its U.S. and Canada segment support Goings' stance.
Sales in the U.S. and Canada business rose 7% in local currency in the quarter, stronger than the 3% improvement notched in the third quarter. Tupperware has launched a series of products to address new consumer needs for convenience and a desire to trim the weekly grocery store bill. That stream of product innovation has played a part in attracting young women to the company's direct sales model.
High-tech storage products that extend the life of fruits and vegetables has been a focus point for Tupperware, as have been products tailor-made for time-pressured millennials -- such as those under the Quick Chef Pro line, which make it easier to prepare a meal and don't use electricity -- and frisbee-shaped bowls that collapse to easily fit inside a bag or case.
Goings also said that "we are attracting more and more hotshot young women who want to be entrepreneurs, those that say 'I'm not going to live my business career in a cubicle.'" The female unemployment rate of 6% for those aged 25-34, the highest among females aged 20-55, gives Tupperware an opportunity to expand its workforce further with those eager to earn above minimum wage and have flexible schedules to manage family responsibilities.
The company's U.S. workforce rose 3% year-over-year in the fourth quarter after improving by 4% in the preceding quarter. A Tupperware consultant that holds five parties a week and brings in $2,250 in sales each week could earn close to $41,000 a year.
Tupperware China is a somewhat different story than the well-known U.S. business. It has actually undergone an evolution amid new entry-level products such as tumblers that feature a picture of Chairman Mao or artwork by local artists, and a premium water filtration offering that costs $1,000 and is now a top-seller in a country known for undrinkable tap water. A highly engaged fresh crop of female Chinese workers has also helped.
"I think it has been our sensitivity to what the culture is," pointed out Goings, who used to live in Hong Kong, as to why China has been a win for Tupperware. Fourth-quarter sales in China increased 20%, following gains of 24% in the third-quarter and 28% in the second quarter.
Typically, the Chinese have small apartments that don't lend themselves to holding the Tupperware parties as is common practice in the U.S. So Tupperware sells its products through 4,700 storefronts that it didn't have to finance to open. The products are sold largely by women doing cooking demonstrations to those folks lured into the storefronts by significant digital marketing efforts. The Tupperware seller in China, says Goings, is a "young, millennial entrepreneur that is often college educated." This group of Tupperware sellers have found a way to make more money than they could in another kind of job.
As for what's next in China, think microwaves. According to Goings, there is a very high penetration of microwaves in the country. New products will turn a microwave oven into a steam oven, with the microwaves never reaching the food being cooked due to barriers installed into the item. "Chinese love steamed products," says Goings.
TheStreet Ratings team rates TUPPERWARE BRANDS CORP as a Hold with a ratings score of C+. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:
"We rate TUPPERWARE BRANDS CORP (TUP) a HOLD. The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed ? some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its expanding profit margins and notable return on equity. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including generally higher debt management risk, weak operating cash flow and a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself."
You can view the full analysis from the report here: TUP Ratings Report
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.