Procter & Gamble Clings to Ranking as Dow’s Worst Performing Stock

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Procter & Gamble Co. (NYSE: PG) posted a share price gain of 1.3% last week, but the boost was not enough to let the company shake off its ranking as the worst-performing Dow Jones industrial average stock of this year. So far in 2018, the shares have lost 20.2%.

The second-worst Dow stock so far this year is General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE), which is down 16.3%. That is followed by Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT), down 15.6%, 3M Co (NYSE: MMM), down 12.8%, and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), down 8.9%. With the exception of Walmart, which is spending some $15 billion to acquire a majority stake in India’s Flipkart, the five worst performers all cut their losses last week, with GE adding about 3.6% to its share price.

The Dow added 568.66 points over the course of the last week to close at 24,24,831.17, up 2.3% for the week. For the year to date, the consumer staples sector has dropped nearly 13%, the worst among the 10 market sectors.

P&G started the week on a down note with shares trading lower both Monday and Tuesday. Prices perked up on Wednesday and regained the earlier weekly losses along with a modest gain.

The driver was the company’s Wednesday announcement that it was launching a tender offer for buy back $1.25 billion of more than $5 billion in outstanding debt. The company has prioritized the 11 debt securities and will accept tendered securities according to that prioritization. The top three are 8.00% and 8.75% debentures due in 2022, 2024 and 2029. The total value of the three is about $260 million.

On Friday the company got some bad news. Costco is now selling its own brand of razors and blades. The Kirkland Signature brand shaving gear is 24% cheaper than P&G’s comparable Gillette brand, adding to already substantial pressure from e-commerce shaving gear sellers.

According to a report at Bloomberg, Gillette’s share of the market for razor blades has dropped from 64% in 2012 to 56% in 2017. Making matters worse, Walmart will begin selling razors and blades from another Gillette competitor later this month.

What may be worrying investors is that P&G seems to believe that it can buy its way out of its current troubles. In 2005 P&G paid $57 billion to acquire Gillette and last month the company announced a $4.2 billion agreement to buy the consumer health business of Merck KGaA. These are the company’s two largest acquisitions ever. History seems to be indicating that big acquisitions aren’t the answer.

Procter & Gamble stock closed at $73.37 on Friday, up about 0.3% for the day in a 52-week range of $70.73 to $94.67. The 12-month consensus price target on the stock is $81.79, unchanged from the prior week, and the forward price-earnings ratio is 16.41.