Berkshire Joins 3G Capital to Buy Heinz in $23 Billion Deal
Comment of the Day

February 14 2013

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Berkshire Joins 3G Capital to Buy Heinz in $23 Billion Deal

This article by Zachary Tracer for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section
Buffett has been seeking deals after the cash pile at Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire climbed to more than $45 billion. He has previously wagered on consumer products through equity investments in Coca-Cola Co. and he helped finance Mars Inc.'s purchase of chewing gum maker Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. Lemann / is worth about $19 billion based on holdings in Anheuser-Busch InBev NV and Burger King Worldwide, according to the Bloomberg
Billionaires Index.

“Heinz has strong, sustainable growth potential based on high quality standards, continuous innovation, excellent management and great tasting products,” Buffett, 82, said in the statement.

Heinz shares climbed to $72.68 in early trading at 8:19 a.m. in New York. The company had gained 17 percent in the past 12 months as it boosted sales in developing economies. Heinz in November said fiscal second-quarter sales in emerging markets rose 13 percent, excluding the effects of foreign currency fluctuations and acquisitions or divestitures.

Eoin Treacy's view The reasons Warren Buffet states for wishing to own Heinz are similar to those we look for when assessing whether a company should be considered an Autonomy. Heinz has been in our list of Autonomies since 2011 and has appeared in Comment of the Day on a number of occasions since 2010.

Heinz spent most of its time between 1999 and 2012 ranging below $55 in a lengthy process of valuation contraction. P/Es ratios went from a peak near 24 in 1999 to 11 in 2009 and 16 yesterday. The breakout from this 13-year range signalled the beginning to a new bull market and the offer to buy now probably reflects the acquirers' expectations that a process of valuation expansion is underway that will see earnings growth trend higher over time.

The processed foods sector has generally performed well over the last few years and a considerable number of related shares broke out of their respective bases more than 18 months ago. I thought it might be timely to highlight those shares which have completed lengthy consolidations more recently.

In the USA, Kellogg completed a five-year consolidation last week. ConAgra Foods broke successfully above $30 in December for the first time since 1999. Seaboard Corp broke out to new all-time highs two weeks ago. Campbell Soup is rallying towards the upper side of its five-year range. Following a volatile trading performance over the last couple of years. Hillshire Brands has rallied back to the test the upper side of the 14-year congestion area.

Japanese listed Kewpie Corp has pulled back to find support in the region of the upper side of its more than decade long base.

Aryzta, listed in Ireland and Switzerland, broke out of its two-year range in January

Savola (listed in Saudi Arabia) is testing the upper side of its five-year base.

Some of the above shares exhibit short-term overbought conditions but this is to be expected as multi-year ranges are completed. Sustained moves below their respective 200-day MAs would be required to question medium-term upside potential.

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