NETHERLANDS: Numico congratulated for clarity, but where will stock recovery start?
Dutch food and vitamins company Numico has been commended by some market watchers for announcing a "complete and clear" financial report of its Q3 results on Wednesday; but this apparent honesty did not stop its stock plummeting 19.6% over the next two days.
In its first quarterly report, the company posted Q3 net profit down 21%. It also revealed positive trade accounts receivable (bills owed to Numico by customers) as of 30 September, a clear account of exceptional items for 2001 and a complete calculation of its fully diluted earnings per share figure.
Year on year, sales at Numico's US subsidiaries GNC and Rexall Sundown underperformed during the quarter. The vitamin pills retail and wholesale specialists were acquired two years ago, and for the first time, Numico answered questions on whether it paid too much for the firms: "Not for GNC, but under present circumstances this is certainly the case regarding Rexall Sundown."
Furthermore, Numico said it has lowered its expectations for full year profit, bad news for investors after the company's statement in August that it predicted 15% growth.
"Numico is to be commended for what the company disclosed," said the Wall Street Journal: "What investors will begin to realise is that they are finally getting a truer picture of the company's real, underlying performance."
Interestingly however, the extra news for investors is the appointment of outsider Peter van Wel as new CEO from 1 January 2002. Until recently CFO at the publisher Wolters Kluwer, Van Wel has lived in the US for some time, successfully acquiring and restructuring Wolters' North American business.
If Van Wel proves successful with Numico over the next 16 months, stands a chance of becoming successor to Hans van der Wielen, the current chairman of Numico board, who is set to retire. Such an appointment could boost the market's confidence in Numico, as van der Wielen's media image has faltered over the last two years.
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