Last night on CNBC's Mad Money Jim Cramer sat down with Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever (UL) , home to such brands as Dove soaps and shampoos, Lipton tea, Hellmann's mayonnaise and Vaseline, where the executive was asked about, among other things, a hostile bid from Warren Buffett's Kraft Heinz (KHC) .
"My returns have been higher in the last eight years than Warren's returns. So I think it's better if he leaves us with what we know how to do well," he told Cramer during the "Executive Decision" segment. On Feb. 17, Unilever rejected a hostile takeover bid from Kraft Heinz, which is backed by Buffett and Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital, and vowed to bring out more value as a standalone company.
Polman said that Unilever has been "head's down" and working hard to deliver on their promises of faster innovation and growth. He said Unilever has always had a strategy of long-term compounding growth and shareholders saw the benefits of that strategy this quarter with their 12% dividend boost.
Cramer noted that 46% of Unilever's executives are women and 57% of sales stem from emerging markets, something no other consumer company has. Polman added that half of Unilever's board of directors are also women and that insight only helps propel their growth.
The market and consumers are changing fast, Polman said, and a company can't just go by what the numbers are telling them now. He said a successful company has to make sure their portfolio of products also meets future needs.
One of Unilever's future proofing efforts was its purchase of Dollar Shave Club, a disruptive startup that now commands 20% of the shaving market. Polman said they've left Dollar Shave's CEO to run the company and simply help out wherever they can. "We celebrate disruption," Polman said, which is part of the reason Dollar Shave's sales grew by 50% last year.
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