Nestle SA (NSRGY) hit back at activist investor Dan Loeb and his Third Point LLC hedge fund Monday, insisting the company is "delivering results" for shareholders but noted that it takes "all shareholders' perspectives seriously" and values continued input.
Nestle said that it's repositioned its portfolio to focus on high growth, high margin businesses, put CEO Ulf Mark Schneider in place to lead its Nutrition, Health and Wellness strategy and completed a global coffee sales partnership with Starbucks Corp. (SBUX) . The comments followed a Sunday letter from Loeb and Third Point, which built a $3 billion stake in the Vevey, Switzerland-based group last year, calling for "urgency - rather than incrementalism" in changes to the group's broader strategy, which Loeb insists should be focused on three main business areas -- beverages, nutrition and groceries -- and must include the sale of divisions such as frozen foods and confectionary.
"Nestlé has delivered strong total shareholder return over the long term (+135% total shareholder return in [Swiss francs] over the past 10 years) and continues to focus on creating sustainable shareholder value," the company said in a statement published on its website. "Nestlé's Board and management take all shareholders' perspectives seriously and welcome their continued input."
Nestle shares, which had booked early losses in Zurich trading Monday, were marked 0.44% higher from their Friday close and changing hands at Sfr77.24 each following the statement, although they're still down around 7.83% for the year to date.
Third Point also reiterated its view that Nestle should dump its 23% stake in cosmetics giant L'Oreal SA (LRLCY) , which is worth around €23 billion, and invest the cash back into both the company's core business and share buybacks. L'Oreal CEO Jean-Paul Agon sad earlier this spring that "if Nestle one day wants to sell, we are ready", but the Vevey, Switzerland-based group has insisted it's making no changes to its 44-year-old pact with the Paris-based cosmetics group.
L'Oreal shares were seen 1.1% lower on the session in Paris at €209.20, but have rise more than 13.2 so far this year amid speculation of a potential bidding war for the Nestle stake.
Nestle's biggest move since Loeb first revealed his stake last year came in early May, when the group announced a $7.15 billion deal with Starbucks for the exclusive worldwide rights to sell the Seattle, Wash.-based company's branded products, establishing Nestle as the world's biggest coffee company, a move Schneider said as the time was "all about growth."