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股价崩盘,卡夫亨氏做错了什么?

Shawn Tully 2019年03月05日

卡夫亨氏的EVA之所以下跌得如此厉害,主要受三个负面因素的共同作用。

2月22日,全球第五大食品公司卡夫亨氏宣布减记154亿美元资产,其股价和声誉也因此遭到重创。不过,与食品和饮料行业的其他竞争对手相比,卡夫亨氏的业绩表现究竟有多差呢?

对于这个问题,最好的衡量指标是经济增加值(EVA)。数据显示,在过去三年间,卡夫亨氏的EVA以令人震惊的速度恶化。(无独有偶,卡夫亨氏的股价也比2017年2月时的最高值下跌了约三分之二。)

2013年,来自于巴西的3G资本携手巴菲特的伯克希尔-哈撒韦公司收购了卡夫。为了达到传说中的效率,以及为行业设立一个新标杆,他们又主导了卡夫与亨氏的并购。2015年,卡夫完成了对亨氏的收购。接下来的两年里,华尔街对3G资本主导的这次并购吹捧得无以复加。

然而所谓的“3G疗法”,却让这家番茄酱生产厂商付出了血的代价。

EVA暴露了什么问题

EVA是衡量一家公司能否通过股东投资获取足够利润,进而回馈股东的一个最基本的指标。它最早是由企业管理与分析领域的权威机构ISS提出的。EVA的基本理念是,除非一家公司产生的回报高于股东将这笔投资用于另一个高风险项目的回报,否则这家公司就不算真正的盈利。基于这一理念,在计算利润时,EVA会从投资收益中扣除代表“机会成本”的“资本支出”。

当调整后的税后利益高于资本支出时,EVA为正数,代表企业给投资者带来了回报。当EVA为负数时,则代表企业在生产、研发、资本运营上表现不佳,缺乏竞争力,无法有效产生利润。(EVA对计算运营利润的传统会计方法进行了调整,包括对研发成本、营销成本、重组成本的资本化与摊销等。)

如果一家公司的EVA勉强为正,则说明它的业绩表现勉强可以接受,大致相当于一名职业高尔夫球手打出了18洞标准杆的成绩。

在计算EVA指标时,我们对卡夫亨氏总数为1120亿美元的股权和债务取5%作为资本支出,扣出资本支出后的收益为其实际经济收入。2016年是卡夫亨氏并购后的第一个完整的经营年度,当年卡夫亨氏很轻松地跑赢了资本支出,其EVA盈余3.05亿美元,约等于其销售额的1.1%。到2018年,它的经济利润已经跌至负6.05亿美元,下跌幅达9.1亿美元,达到营收入的负2.3%。从2015年也就是公司业绩还算强劲时算起,以EVA占销售额的百分比为指标来衡量,业内比卡夫亨氏业绩更差的企业只有六分之一。

导致崩溃的三个关键因素

卡夫亨氏的EVA之所以下跌得如此厉害,主要受三个负面因素的共同作用。

一是增收乏力。从2016年年末到2018年年末,卡夫亨氏的营收入下降了近5亿美元,跌至260亿美元出头,跌幅达1.7%。一方面,卡夫亨氏要面对来自于在线零售商的激烈竞争;而在线下,它的卡夫芝士等拳头产品也面临着竞品的激烈的价格战。在最近接受CNBC采访时,巴菲特坦承,卡夫亨氏高估了自己的品牌实力,并认为卡夫亨氏拒绝大零售商们提出的降价要求是错误的做法。巴菲特表示:“我们并不像自己想象的那么强大。”

尽管如此,如果卡夫亨氏能保证销售额不下滑,并且将成本控制在相同水平,那么它去年仍然会产生可观的EVA。削减成本本应该是3G资本的强项,它虽然一定程度上也削减了成本,但做得还不够。

二是成本削减被利润下滑所抵消。2015到2018年,卡夫亨氏的销售和行政管理成本从10%下降到8%,这也就是3G资本所谓的“零基数预算法”的成果——即各部门的每一笔预算都要每年从零开列,并且必须有合理理由。然而成本的下降并不能抵消毛利润的显着下滑。从2017年年初到2018年年底,公司毛利率(营收入减去销售成本)由39.5%下跌至36%,跌幅达3.5个百分点。

原因有两方面。首先,许多产品的生产成本大幅上升了。比如据管理层介绍,公司在一种名叫Capri Sun的鲜果饮料的生产上投入了大量资本。为了针对大型商超做好线下推广,去年该产品的销售人员的人数增长了80%。其次,据最早提出EVA理念的ISS高级顾问贝内特·斯图尔特观察:“卡夫亨氏很多产品的盈利能力较弱。”虽然卡夫亨氏一直努力维持产品定价,但随着克罗格和沃尔玛等大型线下零售商纷纷推出自有食品品牌,在巨大的竞争压力下,卡夫亨氏目前的折扣力度已经比两年前大得多了。在接受CNBC采访时,巴菲特也提到它的“议价能力较弱”。

简而言之,毛利率3.5%的跌幅超过了管理成本2%的跌幅,使得卡夫亨氏的亏损率达到了销售额的1.5%。管理费用的下跌是以研发、广告和促销支出的下降为代价的,而这些都对促进销量至关重要。从2015年年底到去年年底,卡夫亨氏的研发成本、广告成本和促销成本总计减少了8400万美元,下跌幅度超过10%,管理费用缩支的半数都来自于此。

三是资本支出巨大却没有回报。在2015年,卡夫亨氏每卖出1美元的产品,就会向不动产、工厂、设备等固定资产投资32美分。去年,这个数字上升到了41美分,涨幅达32%。也就是说,为了升级那些用了几十年的老旧厂房,卡夫亨氏是颇下了血本的。

据卡夫亨氏的管理层透露,该公司的业务还受到了发货延迟问题的影响,因此,公司觉得有必要斥巨资升级其供应链和仓库网络。对此,斯图尔特认为:“然而卡夫亨氏未能通过降低成本和提高利润等手段收回全部投资。”结果是,它的投资效率远不如几年前了。2015年,卡夫亨氏每进行1每元的固定资产投资,就能收获3.5美元的销售额,但现在这个数字已经下降到了2.5美元。

价值贬损200亿美元

要衡量投资者从一家公司获得多少回报,或者损失了多少,还有另一个终极指标——市场增加值(MVA)。MVA是EVA的一个变种,衡量的是投资者投入的股本与其当前市场价值的差额。斯图尔特表示:“简单说来,就是投入的现金与产生的价值的对比。MVA会告诉你,在股东投入到公司的股本的基础上,究竟产生了多少财富。”

到2016年年中,也就是3G资本正受到华尔街热捧的时候,卡夫亨氏的市值大约超过其账面资本500亿美元,这就是它为股东创造的累计财富。而现在,由于股价下跌得很厉害,加之投资还没有收到回报,卡夫亨氏的MVA已经是负200亿美元了。MVA的崩溃也是EVA下跌的必然反应。在这段时期里,卡夫亨氏的股东损失的价值要超过任何一家包装食品公司。

3G资本在削减成本方面有一些好点子,但在如何推动卡夫亨氏的增长上,却没有什么良策。对于3G资本来说,如果你不能推动公司核心业务也就是包装食品的增长,那么最后你只得花更多的钱来避免公司的进一步衰落。(ag体育平台|官网)

译者:朴成奎

The shares and reputation of Kraft Heinz took a huge hit when the world’s fifth largest food company announced a $15.4 billion writedown on February 22. But how badly is Kraft Heinz really doing compared to rivals in the food and beverage industry?

The best yardstick is a metric called Economic Value Added (or EVA). And the EVA numbers show an absolutely shocking deterioration over the past three years. (Not coincidentally, shares in Kraft Heinz are down about two-thirds since their February 2017 peak.)

In 2015, Kraft bought Heinz. And over the next couple of years, Wall Street cheered 3G, the Brazilian investment firm that had teamed up with Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway to buy Kraft in 2013 and then engineered the Heinz acquisition, for achieving unheard-of efficiencies, and setting a new standard that rivals would need to rush to match. (Read “Buy. Squeeze. Repeat.

But what was advertised as the 3G cure has cost the ketchup-maker a lot of blood since then.

What “EVA” reveals

EVA is the most basic measure of whether a company is earning sufficient profits on the capital invested by shareholders to truly reward those owners. It’s a trademark and service of ISS, a global leader in corporate governance and analytics. The idea behind EVA is that a company isn’t really profitable unless it’s generating returns greater than what a shareholder could garner from another, equally risky investment. Hence, EVA deducts a “capital charge” from reported earnings on all of the billions backing the business––representing the “opportunity cost” of what that capital could be earning elsewhere.

When the adjusted, after-tax profits exceed the capital charge, EVA is positive, and the enterprise is rewarding investors. When it’s negative, the company’s operations are underperforming, uncompetitive, and killing shareholder value by doing a poor job of deploying investments in plants, R&D and working capital to generate profits. (EVA makes adjustments to traditional accounting to calculate operating profit, including capitalizing and amortizing R&D, marketing and restructuring costs.)

When a company beats the EVA bogey, it’s meeting the minimum requirement for adequate performance––just as, when a professional golfer shoots par, they’ve hit the benchmark for a decent 18 holes.

The ISS EVA methodology assess a 5% capital charge on all of Kraft Heinz’s $112 billion in combined equity and debt. What Heinz earns after subtracting that charge amounts to its real economic earnings. In 2016, the first full year following the Kraft-Heinz merger, the maker of Oscar Mayer hot dogs and Kraft cheese beat its cost of capital handily, and in the process, generated a positive $305 million in EVA, equal to 1.1% of sales. But by 2018, economic profit dropped to a minus $605 million, a swing of $910 million, to -2.3% of revenues. From the period starting in 2015, when EVA was also strongly positive, only one in six U.S. food and beverage companies performed worse, measured by the 3-year trend of EVA as a share of sales.

Three keys to a collapse

Kraft Heinz’s EVA went the wrong way due to a confluence of three negatives.

Kraft Heinz couldn’t grow the top line. From the close of 2016 to the end of last year, Kraft Heinz’s revenues fell by almost $500 million, or 1.7%, to just over $26 billion. Kraft Heinz faced stiff competition from online retailers and heavily discounted in-store brands that share space with such signature offerings as Kraft cheese slices. In a recent CNBC interview, Buffett acknowledged that the company overestimated the strength of its brands, and misfired by strongly resisting the big retailers’ demands for lower prices. “We weren’t as strong as we thought,” Buffett declared.

Still, if Heinz even managed to hold sales constant and kept costs the same, it would have generated respectable EVA last year. Pounding down expenses was supposed to be 3G’s strength. It did so lower costs to extent, but not enough.

Cost-cutting got swamped by falling margins. From 2015 through 2018, Kraft Heinz lowered its sales, general and administrative costs (SG&A) from 10% to 8% of sales. That’s the payoff from 3G’s vaunted “zero based budgeting” program that demands that managers justify every expense, starting from scratch, each year. A steep fall in gross margins, however, overwhelmed the progress on overhead. From the start of 2017 through the end of 2018, that figure––consisting of revenues minus cost of good sold––fell by 3.5 percentage points, from 39.5% to 36%.

The reason is two-fold. First, production costs on many products seem to have risen significantly. For example, management states that itag亚游在线登陆|注册 spent heavily on producing a fresh version of its fruit drink Capri Sun. The in-store sales force for that product in the U.S. rose by 80% last year in a campaign to boost shelf space with big retailers. Second, “Kraft Heinz appears to be garnering smaller markups on many of its products,” says Bennett Stewart, a senior advisor to ISS who pioneered the EVA concept. Despite its efforts to preserve pricing, the pressure from house brands at big grocery retailers such as Kroger and Wal-Mart forced Kraft to offer far deeper discounts than the deals it had offered two years ago. On CNBC, Buffett referred to its “weaker bargaining hand.”

In short, the 3.5% fall in gross margins exceeded the 2% shrinkage in overhead, leaving Kraft worse off by 1.5% of sales. And the decline in overhead came at the expense of R&D and advertising plus promotional spending, categories crucial to boosting sales. In total, outlays in those two categories fell by $84 million, or over 10%, from the end to 2015 through last year, accounting for roughly half the savings in SG&A.

Big spending on capex, but no returns. In 2015, Kraft Heinz was deploying 32 cents for every dollar in sales in property, plant and equipment (PP&E) assets on its balance sheet, using it to make everything from Velveeta to Mac & Cheese to Miracle Whip. Last year, that number rose to 41 cents, a giganag亚游在线登陆|注册tic jump of 32%. Kraft spent heavily to revitalize decades-old plants churning out those venerable brands.

Management has also disclosed that business suffered from shipment delays, necessitating big expenditures to upgrade its supply chain and warehouse network. “But Kraft failed to recoup all of that investment by being able to lower costs and hence improve margins,” says Stewart. The upshot is that It’s now deploying capital a lot less efficiently than a few years ago. Today, it’s garnering $2.50 in sales for every dollar invested in PP&E, down from $3.50 in 2015.

A $20 billion shortfall

The ultimate measure of how richly a company rewards investors, or how badly it penalizes them, is Market Value-Added (MVA), an EVA offshoot that measures the spread between the equity investors have put into the business, and its current market value. “It’s money in versus value out,” says Stewart. “MVA tells you how much wealth is created over and above what shareholder put into the company.”

By the middle of 2016, when Wall Street was touting the genius of 3G, Kraft Heinz was trading at market value premium to its book capital on the order of $50 billion, representing the cumulative of wealth created for shareholders. Now, the company’s MVA is far in the red at a negative $20 billion, due to the big drop in the stock price, as well as investments that haven’t paid off. It’s the swoon in EVA, the relentless fall in profits after subtracting the charge for capital, that accounts for the collapse in MVA. No surprise that Kraft Heinz has destroyed more shareholder value than any other packaged goods company over that time frame.

3G had good ideas for cutting, but not for growing. And if you can’t grow in old-line packaged goods, you end up spending more just to keep from falling further behind.

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