Unilever PLC was formerly known as Lever Brothers Limited and was founded in the year 1885. Currently, it is headquartered in London, United Kingdom. Unilever PLC is considered one of the world’s largest FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) companies and it operates in the food manufacturing and products sector listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE). The company has its operations in Asia, Africa, Europe, Northern and Southern America, and it has a full time employee count of more than 170,000 all around the globe. Some of the main product heads of their proffering are personal care products, home care products, food products, as well as cooking products. A small bunch of Unilever’s famous worldwide brands in different product categories include Axe, Dove, Lux, Sunsilk, Comfort, Close Up and Rexona (Unilever USA, 2012).

Competitive Positions

Unilever PLC or its group’s revenue in the year ended December 31, 2011 surged up to more than €46 billion, marking its footsteps among the world’s largest public limited companies. Unilever has a whole bunch of competitors due to its large scale of operations all around the world, but it has a firm grip on its competitive strategies and positions. The company’s largest international competitors comprise of Procter & Gamble (P&G) and Nestle, both of which are in the sector of Food – Major Diversified. Apart from the global front, it also faces competition on the local base, as well as product-segment-wise from companies including Henkel, PepsiCo, Mars, Inc., S. C. Johnson & Son., ConAgra and Reckitt Benckiser (Hoovers, Inc. 2012).

Profitability History (past five years)

Unilever has earned a competitive position in the food-major diversified industry and has depicted quite favorable profitable figures throughout its operation history. The profitability history for the past five years is illustrated in the following line chart:

It can be seen that the trend of profitability is on an upward scale, except for a hype in the year 2008 taking the net profit up to €5.027 billion. This trend stopped at a net profit of €4.252 billion in the year 2011. Summing up, the profitabilty figures in a nominal sense have been quite stable (Unilever USA, 2012). Coming onto the net profit margins discovered during the past five years, the following chart will help illustrate it:

The above graph also shows a similar picture, but here, the revenue part comes in action. The net profit margin trend is almost similar and this depicts that the revenue earned in the past five years and the corresponding cost of sales, operational expenses and other expenses have worked proportionally, leading to a clear trend and not an erratic one.Part A – Unilever PLC Stock Charts Yahoo Finance was used to extract the monthly opening, high, low and closing prices of the stock during the past five years from July 2, 2007 to June 1, 2012. Due to the volume of data extracted being large that is for five years and 60 values, five equal yearly stock charts and their respective data tables have been made for ease and convenience (Yahoo Finance 2012). These are depicted and discussed as follows:

Stock Chart #1 (July 2, 2007 to June 2, 2008)

The above stock chart shows variations in stock prices during the year 2007-2008. The chart depicts about opening, high, low and closing prices, but if one discusses mainly the closing monthly prices in this year, one can see that, overall there is a decreasing trend with the first closing price at $31.19 and the last closing price of the period at $28.41, which shows an unfavorable situation. The highest closing price went up to $37.42 on December 2, 2007, but the largest spread between the highest and closing prices on a single day was on January 2, 2008 amounting up to $8.12, which is phenomenal. Overall, there is a yearly de-escalation of 8.91% and a monthly average decrease of 0.74% in stock prices of Unilever PLC in this period discussed.

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