Our conviction on Nestle strengthening its volume-led revenue growth remains strong amid acceleration of broader market momentum. This was also evident in our recent interaction with company’s MD and Chairman Suresh Narayanan. Volume growth of 11.1% in CY18 (highest in past seven years, ex-CY16, aided by Maggi’s comeback) reflects Nestle’s strengthening positioning in existing brands, deepening penetration and its quest for innovations. We are enthused by the 370bps y-o-y increase in ad spend in Q4CY18 versus mere 50bps in H1CY18. We remain enthused by Nestle’s innovation and success rate coupled with potential to harness growth through cluster-based approach. Hence maintain Buy.
Launches scaling up; ad spends in right direction
Nestle has gained market share in instant coffee, instant pasta and white & wafer. However, it has lost ground in ketchup & sauces, instant noodles and tea creamer. Innovation is fuelling growth with 3% contribution to H1CY18 sales (2.6% in CY17 and 1.5% in CY16). While confectionery and prepared dishes clocked the fastest volume growth, the milk & nutrition business continues to lag even as it benefited from price hike of 280bps.
Nestle is the market leader in 85% of its portfolio and aims to grow ahead of the industry. The company’s existing portfolio is cementing its leadership—already No. 1 in seven of eight categories and No. 2 in the balance. Though Maggi continues to grow, its market share has been stagnant for past one year—though 14.5% volume growth in prepared dishes shows growth has been strong.
Outlook: Recovering lost ground
Nestle’s focus on innovation, market share and premiumisation is envisaged to boost volume-led growth. The new strategy, which divides business into 15 clusters, facilitating local autonomy in decision-making and better tracking, is encouraging. We value the stock at PE of 55x, which yields target price of `11,872. At CMP, the stock is trading at 47.3x CY20e EPS.
We maintain ‘BUY/SO’.
Invigorating mantra: Ramp up volumes
Nestle India has delivered double-digit volume growth in its overall business for three consecutive years. It will continue to sharpen focus on achieving double-digit growth, primarily driven by volumes. Hence, Nestle will gun for volumes and market share. Volumes grew at a strong 11.1% in CY18 and 10.9% y-o-y in CY17 with a turnaround in sales volume across segments. This was achieved via a focus on brand extensions and product launches and by raising the innovation quotient.