Tag Archives: Fortune Brands

What Happened to the First 12 Stocks on the Dow?

By Alex Planes, The Motley Fool

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average has been around since 1896, and its antecedents date to 1884. This venerable index has refused to stand still ever since Charles Dow first sought to represent the American economy in a handful of companies. To date, the Dow has changed 49 times, with many moves occurring in clusters early in its history. What has become of the original Dow Dozen? Does any trace remain of the most notable industrial stocks of mid-1896?

Let’s take a look to see just how important the Dow’s original components actually were to the American economy and what eventually happened to them once they fell out of favor.

American Cotton Oil
This company was originally formed as a cotton oil trust in the 1880s, and it quickly dominated its niche. However, the American Cotton Oil Trust was dissolved in 1889 following a Louisiana antitrust lawsuit and reconstituted as a corporation. This company’s stay on the Dow was brief, and it was gone in 1901. Following removal, the company was absorbed by a former subsidiary in 1929, changed its name to Best Foods in 1931, and merged with Corn Products Company — now Ingredion — in 1958. Corn Products, which had changed its name to CPI, split into Bestfoods and Ingredion in 1997, and Bestfoods was acquired by consumer products giant Unilever three years later.

American Sugar
Formed in 1891, American Sugar quickly became the dominant sugar-refining trust, and at one point it controlled virtually all processing capacity in the United States. The company remained a Dow component until 1930, by which point its power had waned. After first changing its name to Amstar in 1970, the company still exists today as Domino Foods.

American Tobacco
Added in 1896, removed in 1899, added again in 1924, and removed again in 1930 before grabbing a spot in 1932 that it would retain until 1985, American Tobacco has a history almost as convoluted as its Dow membership. It was the original Tobacco Trust, but it was broken up in 1911 on the same day the Standard Oil Trust lost its antitrust suit. The Tobacco Trust became American Tobacco, R.J. Reynolds, Liggett and Myers (now a subsidiary of Vector Group), and Lorillard.

American Tobacco became a subsidiary of holding company American Brands in 1985, as the latter had been buying up various businesses since 1969. At one point, American Brands produced office supplies, golf products, home improvement products, and spirits. The company sold its tobacco business in 1994 and renamed itself Fortune Brands in 1997 to focus on its spirits and hardware segments. These business units split in 2011 to become Fortune Brands Home & Security and Beam , one of the most diverse liquor companies in the world.

Chicago Gas
A component for only two years, Chicago Gas was bought (and replaced on the Dow) by regional competitor Peoples Gas in 1898. Peoples remained a component until 1915, shortly …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Are Activist Investors Ever Good for Shareholders?

By Brendan Byrnes, The Motley Fool

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In the video below, The Motley Fool speaks with Roger Martin, strategy expert and dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. We discuss activist shareholders, which have been increasingly in the news lately with companies like Herbalife, Dell, and J.C. Penney. The question many individual investors are asking is: Are these activist investors good for the stocks that I own? Martin explains that they will likely create short-term value, but long-term investors should be wary of activist investors.

A transcript follows the video.

The full interview with Roger Martin can be seen here, in which we discuss a number of topics including Bill Ackman, innovation, corporate responsibility, executive compensation, and how to pick out great companies. Martin is the coauthor of Playing to Win, a new book focusing on strategy written with former Procter & Gamble CEO A.G. Lafley.

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Brendan Byrnes: Let’s talk about activist investors. You saw Icahn recently purchasing a 6% stake in Dell. He’s got 10% of Netflix. Bill Ackman we talked about earlier, obviously J.C. Penney. He lost his proxy fight with Target.

If I’m a shareholder and I own one of these companies, should you welcome an activist investor coming in? What effect does that have on strategy?

Roger Martin: I think it really depends. What I’ve seen of the activist investors … I actually haven’t seen any activist investor out there be able to improve the long run operations of the core company they’ve gotten involved with.

There’s undoubtedly examples where it’s happened, but I don’t see any consistency of that.

What I see is them triggering something that makes the capital markets very happy in the short term, so when Ackman went in and said, “Fortune Brands, you have to split into three companies,” everybody said, “Oh, wow, this is great. We’ve released all this value,” so there’s a bump.

The question is, can you make the performance of each of the companies that much better? I think a short-term shareholder, if an activist comes in and forces them to divest something — sell off their real estate assets or monetize some portfolio of assets — they can have a bump in the stock.

But I think if you’re actually a long-term shareholder — let’s say you’re a pension fund or something that wants to hold a given stock for 30 years and an activist comes in — I don’t think it’s particularly good for you because what they tend to do is make their money on a one-time bump.

As soon as we create the spinoff and we get a bump …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

FBHS Shares Take Off With Housing Market Turnaround

By Zacks.com, Contributor

Fortune Brands Home & Security (FBHS) has been waiting five years for the turnaround in the U.S. housing and construction market. It’s finally here. This Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) is expected to grow earnings by the double digits in 2013 and 2014. Fortune Brands Home & Security was created in Oct. 2011 when it was spun off from Fortune Brands. It makes products such as MasterBrand cabinets, Moen faucets, Simonton windows and Therma-True door systems. In the security area, it also sells the Master Lock brand. On Jan. 31, FBHS reported its fourth quarter results and beat the Zacks Consensus by a penny. Sales rose 8% and were led by the two big housing segments kitchen & bath cabinetry and plumbing. Kitchen & bath cabinetry saw sales rise 12% year-over-year on overall market improvement. Plumbing jumped 15% on increases in all channels, including strong gains in U.S. wholesale from new construction and international markets, especially China. Advanced windows & door systems saw sales rise just 1% as doors were up 5% but windows fell 2%. Only security & storage saw falling sales, declining 4%. Fortune expects 6% to 8% growth in 2012 as housing and construction continue to recover. Net sales are projected in the high single digits. The analysts are bullish about 2013, for good reason. Housing data is indicating that the housing recovery is picking up momentum. Mortgage rates remain near record lows and low inventory suggests a sellers market in some areas. Special Offer: Hungry for ways to increase investment income? Click for Forbes Dividend Investor’s new free report 7 Quality Stocks Yielding 7%-9% for recommendations with strong fundamentals and solid yields. …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Forbes Latest