Analyst Note| Erin Lash, CFA |
It’s been nearly two years since no-moat Kraft Heinz fell out of favor as past-management's decision to ratchet back brand spend in favor of short-term profit gains wreaked havoc on its competitive position (culminating in slumping sales and profits). But with the appointment of Miguel Patricio as CEO in mid-2019, we'd surmised the tide was beginning to turn, given his seeming appreciation for consumer-valued brand spend and a more surgical approach to removing excess costs. Although we posit it was embarking on a course to stabilize its foundation, the onset of the pandemic provided a timely spark. In this vein, through the first three quarters of fiscal-year 2020, Kraft Heinz boasted high-single-digit underlying sales gains (versus a 1.5% downdraft in the first nine months of fiscal 2019) and adjusted operating margins of 21.6% (up 120 basis points over the prior year).