Forecast Calls for Clouds and Sun
Predictions and forecasts are the life-blood for any financial analyst worth his or her salt. Customers expect them, financial writers report on them and, best of all for sub-par prognosticators, when the year is over, no one holds them accountable for their guesstimates. We’re not reading tea leaves here, but the print version of The International Top 30, found only in Happi magazine, is full of predictions for the next four months and far into the future. Of course, most of the predictions involve subjects near and dear to the forecaster in question.
For example, Unilever executives insist that by the end of 2004, the company will have only 400 brands, down from about 1,200 just five years ago. And who are we to argue? Another European company, Reckitt Benckiser, is just as adamant about increasing revenues and slashing costs. Company executives say financial targets of net revenue growth of at least 5% and net income growth in the low double-digits are well in sight.
In Asia, several Japanese companies predict that they will boost their international results significantly during the next five years. But one company in The International Top 30 truly went out on a limb. Earlier this year, Amore Pacific, the largest cosmetics manufacturer in Korea, predicted it will become one of the top 10 cosmetics companies in the world with at least 10 brands boasting annual sales in excess of $100 million.
If Amore Pacific, along with all the other companies in The International Top 30, are to reach their goals, they must come to grips with a wide range of problems affecting the global household and personal products industry. For example, stagnant population growth in Western Europe and Japan is putting a damper on any long-term growth prospects in those regions. And while some suppliers have been able to raise prices a bit, oil has topped $43 a barrel, which will fuel inflation fears and cause rates to rise even faster. If the money supply tightens that quickly, will consumers be willing to open up their wallets to purchase that $90 jar of anti-aging cream? Suddenly it seems easier to forecast which way the stock market is headed rather than consumer sentiment.
But enough about the future. The current edition of The International Top 30 is filled with names that are familiar to nearly all of our readers. As it has since the inaugural edition of The International Top 30 back in 1991, Unilever tops the list, comfortably ahead of the No. 2 firm, L’Oréal. Rounding out the top 10 are Henkel, Reckitt Benckiser, Shiseido, Kao, Wella, Beiersdorf, LVMH and Lion.
To learn more about all of these companies, be sure to read the print version of the August edition of Happi.