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Newell Company: Corporate Strategy

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Newell Company: Corporate Strategy

Newell Company: Corporate Strategy

This case presents an example of a real world dilemma for corporate executives. It is not enough for a company to have superior historical financial performance for the financial markets. These markets will put a premium on a company only if the business strategy is sound and the plans for future growth are solid. Under such constant pressures for growth, company executives constantly look for the “hidden gems” in other companies, geographical areas, and product lines. Often these decisions are rushed and as a result good and solid companies get punished severely from some simple mistakes along the valuation process.

Newell’s Competitive Advantages - Newell’s competitive advantage lies primarily with the strength of its management and its time-proven techniques of selling to the large mass-retailers high-volume/low-cost products. Newell, through time, has been able to master a set of operational procedures in which relatively small and inefficient companies are redesigned operationally and their efficiencies and service level improved, thus appealing more to the mass-retail industry. Newell has been successful in its management structure and its hiring practices which have been geared towards building relationships with retailers. This specific relationship with retailers makes Newell’s business operation difficult to copy from another company.

Newell has also invested heavily in technology. Due to these technological advances (i.e. EDI) Newell is able to deliver product according to the retailers’ requested level of service. This “Good Shipper” reputation will also be hard to copy from a competitor. Newell’s financial and operational controls are also other competitive advantages that have helped the company recognize problems in their early stages and thus react and fix them quickly. Their monthly financial reviews show deep commitment to its profit focus.

Corporate Strategy - As past performance has shown, Newell has an effective corporate level strategy. The company takes the cash from the Cash Cows and invests it in Question Marks which have greater growth potential. Through these investments Question Marks are developed into Stars and then later into new Cash Cows thus supporting the growth of new Question Marks. On the business unit level, Newell allows their units enough freedom to make production and marketing decisions, while at the same time providing support in administration, technology, accounting, legal, and customer-related financial aspects. Thus, even though each unit retains a level of freedom in creativity and operations, all units benefits from the company’s investments in retailer relationships, technology, and management expertise.

Making Sense of Acquisitions - Newell’s reasons for wanting to acquire Calphalon were to use the Calphalon’s presence in the department and specialty stores to build its own presence in these channels as well as to learn from Calphalon’s expertise in pull strategies. As seen from Exhibit 1, if Newell succeeds in “Newellizing” Calphalon then Net Income for Calphalon could go from $2.7 to $16.21 million. However, I believe that Newell will not be able to improve Calphalon’s performance to the extent the

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