With all of the attention paid to quarterly results, investors often lose sight of the bigger picture. Suddenly, a solid growth story becomes a lagging stock. And that’s when you need to pounce. Because when the short-term noise recedes, investors will return to that stock in force.
That lesson was brought home today by looking at quarterly results from Tupperware (NYSE: TUP). Shares are falling around -10% on Tuesday as the global consumer products maker is being hit by foreign exchange effects. Make no mistake, Tupperware continues to benefit from a turnaround that began back in 2007, got overlooked in the downturn in 2008 and 2009, and was only starting to be appreciated this year when economic headwinds stole the headlines. Take a step back, though, and you’ll see a company that has built new paths to growth, sharply cut costs and steadily marched into some of the world’s most fertile emerging markets.
Back in 2006, Tupperware made a string of acquisitions of cosmetic brands, augmenting its line of plastic containers, adding about $600 million to the company’s $1.3 billion sales base. During the next year, management laid out a plan to shed redundant overhead to squeeze more profits out of every dollar of revenue. It worked. Sales grew roughly 10% in 2007 and 2008, while operating profits rose at a healthy 30% clip. Per-share profits rose from $1.42 in 2005 to nearly twice that in 2009, thanks to a 400 basis point expansion in operating and net profit margins.
Not Done Yet
Remarkably, management has found other ways to boost margins yet further. For example, raw material purchasing is now done more smartly, lowering manufacturing expenses. That’s why analysts predicted that profits can grow another +20% this year, and another +13% in 2011, even though sales have been expected to grow at only half that rate. At least that’s what analysts thought until this morning.
Management now thinks that the weak Euro will force analysts to trim those forecasts. Earnings per share will likely be closer to $3.40, well below the $3.70 consensus. Foreign exchange losses account for the bulk of that downward guidance. Notably, profits are still on track to rise more than +10% from last year. So the company’s profit momentum is not broken, just slowed. And assuming the Euro at least stabilizes at current levels, the stage is set for a nice profit rebound next year, back up toward the 20% mark.
Action to Take --> Growing excitement about Tupperware’s ongoing turnaround pushed shares up near $55 in late April. Now, they can be had below $40, or around 10 times projected 2011 earnings. There’s no reason this stock can’t push through the $60 mark once all this currency noise abates. It may take several quarters to get there, but investors will once again see this company as the solid growth story that it is.