Unilever Business Facts & Figures
Did you know that over 2 billion people use Unilever products every day? As the world’s third largest consumer products company, the global nature of Unilever’s operations should come as no surprise to anyone. In fact, the company remains one of Europe’s best performing dividend companies with 36 years of consecutive dividend growth.
*Revenues of approximately 53.3 billion Euros in 2015.
*Emerging markets now account for 58% of their business.
*Unilever has 13 brands with sales of more than 1 billion Euros per year.
*More than 172,000 people work for Unilever.
When consumers search for nutritionally balanced foods or great tasting ice creams, affordable soaps that combat disease, luxurious shampoos, or everyday household care products, there’s a good chance that the brand they select belongs to Unilever.
Seven out of every ten households around the world contain at least one Unilever product, and Unilever’s range of world leading household name brands includes Lipton, Knorr, Dove, Axe, Hellmann’s, Omo, Blue Band, Pureit, and Suave. In fact, Unilever owns approximately 400 world class brands making it one of the best stocks to own in the world.
Risks nevertheless remains, mainly with regards to brand preference. Unilever faces stiff competition for shelf space and consumer loyalty from its direct competitors Procter & Gamble (stock symbol: PG) and Nestlé (stock symbol: NESN).
Unlike many other European companies that pay once or twice a year, Unilever pays a quarterly dividend, which makes it an excellent company for investment purposes if you are looking for a constant revenue stream going into your bank account.
Unilever’s ability to maintain and grow its dividend for at least 36 consecutive years is truly impressive, but not a surprise given that industry peers like Procter & Gamble and Swiss food company Nestlé are able to do the same. Nevertheless, Unilever is one of the few European companies that has been able to accomplish such an incredible achievement.
How To Invest In Unilever | How To Become A Part Owner In Unilever
American investors can purchase a part ownership in Unilever by opening an account with a stock broker such as Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade, or Fidelity. Once your account is opened you can place a Unilever stock purchase order by giving your broker the Unilever stock symbol (you can also buy Unilever stock online through the above stock brokers without having to talk to anyone).
Unilever PLC (stock symbol: UL) and Unilever N.V. (stock symbol: UN) both trade in the New York Stock Exchange as ADR’s (American Depositary Receipts). This basically means that instead of you having to buy the shares in Amsterdam (The Netherlands) or in London (The United Kingdom) in Euros, you can buy Unilever shares in United States Dollars in the United States. These Unilever ADR’s (American Depositary Receipts) are backed by the Unilever shares that are traded in Europe, and subject to transaction costs can be exchanged for the European shares (though it is rare for individual investors to do this exchange because of the convenience of owning the Unilever ADR’s (American Depositary Receipts).
For international investors it’s important to note that Unilever formed following a merger between the Dutch Margarine Unie and the British Lever Brothers in 1930, which to this day results in two controlling holdings that operate as one economic entity: Unilever N.V. and Unilever PLC. Consequently, the company is listed on both the Dutch Euronext Stock Exchange (stock symbol: UNA) and the London Stock Exchange (stock symbol: ULVR).
We mention this distinction because many international investors prefer to purchase the Unilever PLC shares that trade in London or the Unilever PLC ADR’s (stock symbol: UL) since those are subject to a 0% withholding tax on dividends. The Unilever N.V. shares that trade in the Netherlands and the Unilever N.V. ADR’s (stock symbol: UN) that trade in the United States are subject to a reduced Dutch withholding tax of 15% on dividends, whereas the Unilever PLC dividends from the Unilever shares that trade in London and the Unilever ADR’s (stock symbol: UL) that trade in the United States aren’t taxed at all to foreign investors even though both of the European shares declare their dividends in Euros (or United States Dollars for both versions of the ADR’s that trade in the New York Stock Exchange).
Unilever History | Why Are There 2 Types Of Unilever Shares?
Unilever has been in business since the 1880’s. In the 1890s, William Hesketh Lever, founder of Lever Bros, wrote down his ideas for Sunlight Soap – his revolutionary new product that helped popularize cleanliness and hygiene in Victorian England. On September 2, 1929 Lever Brothers and Margarine Unie sign an agreement to create Unilever. The businesses initially aim to negotiate an arrangement to keep out of each other’s principal interests of soap and margarine production, but ultimately decide on a merger instead.
Unilever Shares – The Basics
Unilever NV and Unilever PLC, together with their group companies, operate effectively as a single economic entity.
Unilever was founded in 1930 following a business merger between Naamlooze Vennootschap Margarine Unie of the Netherlands and Lever Brothers Limited of the UK.
To avoid punitive taxation levies and the disruption to the business that would result from dividing integrated national companies into their component parts, both companies pooled their interests through a business merger as opposed to a legal merger.
Two controlling companies were set up, one English (Unilever Ltd – now Unilever PLC) and the other Dutch (Naamlooze Vennootschap Margarine Unie – now Unilever N.V.).
To allow both companies to operate as a single legal entity notwithstanding their independent legal structures, a series of agreements was put in place: mutual sharing of brands and technology; equalisation of dividend; mutual guarantee of borrowings; identical Boards of Directors and equal treatment for shareholders in the event of dissolution. Thus, Unilever N.V. and Unilever PLC have separate legal identities but operate as a single entity.
So what’s not to like about Unilever? Unilever is a truly multinational business that’s greatly positioned to take advantage of future economic growth in emerging markets while having huge pricing power over its core brands. On top of that, Unilever is heavily focused on shareholder value through capital appreciation and by increasing their dividend year after year making Unilever one of the best dividend stocks to own in the entire world.
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