Merck's recent announcement that it will purchase Schering-Plough for $41 billion has the industry abuzz about potential suitors for Coppertone, one of the leading sun care brands in the U.S. with sales of $239 million.
Industry sources say the two contenders are obviously Johnson & Johnson and Energizer. J&J already markets the Neutrogena line of sun care products, while Energizer entered the sun care category in a big way with the recent purchases of Banana Boat and Hawaiian Tropic.
"My guess is it would be J&J, since Energizer is having trouble absorbing Banana Boat and Hawaiian Tropic," said our source. "P&G, however, is always a contender."
Meanwhile, Colin Hession, managing director of specialist consultants, Colin Hession Consulting, noted "Coppertone would represent a logical buy for Beiersdorf, which is No.2 in sun care globally, with 12%, yet still relatively weak in North America. But J&J could also be interested."
With the sun care season getting underway here in the U.S., it may be too late for an acquisition to have a big impact on 2009 sales. But you can bet that the company acquiring Coppertone will spend big money in 2010 to put the brand at the forefront of consumers' minds next summer.