Nestle SA (NSRGY) shares rose to the top of the market in Switzerland Monday after reports that activist investor Third Point LLC is in regular dialogue with the world's biggest food company after becoming a top ten shareholder late last month.
Nestle was marked 1.4% higher in early afternoon trading in Zurich and changing hands at a Sfr83 each. The stock hit a record high of Sfr86 last week after Third Point revealed it had built a 1% stake, worth around $3.5 billion, which would put the group among the ten largest shareholders of the Vevy, Switzerland-based group and said it wants management to pursue a series of options it argues would unlock shareholder value, including the sale of its 23% stake in luxury goods maker L'Oreal SA (LRLCY) .
Reuters reported Monday that Third Point's Dan Loeb met with Mark Schneider in early June and is broadly supportive of the new CEO's ambitions, but wants the group to set growth and margin targets in order to spur a cultural shift at the brand giant. The report also said the Nestle is not interested in selling it's L'Oreal stake, which is has held for more than 40 years.
Shortly after Third Point revealed its stake, Nestle said it would buyback around $21 billion in shares over the next three years following criticism from the U.S. hedge fund and indicated it may look at acquisitions in key growth areas.
Nestle said it launched a program to increase returns earlier this year which included a "comprehensive review" of its capital structure and priorities. The review, the company said, determined that capital spending should focus on high-growth sectors such as coffee, petcare, infant nutrition and bottled water as well as consumer healthcare. It also said it would "continue to assess opportunities for margin improvement" through selective cost-cutting.