* Organic growth a priority but positioned to look at buys
* 2013 EBIT 814 mln eur vs Rtrs poll avg 824 mln eur
* Dividend flat at 0.70 eur/shr vs expectations for rise
* Sees 2014 sales up 4-6 pct, below expectations
* Shares up 1.6 percent
(Recasts with analyst comments, share activity)
HAMBURG, March 4 Nivea skin cream maker
Beiersdorf AG is positioned for takeovers having
completed a restructuring and has 2.5 billion euros ($3.4
billion) in cash for possible buys, its Chief Financial Officer
Ulrich Schmidt said on Tuesday.
Speaking after the company forecast sales rising as much as
6 percent in the current year, Schmidt said organic or
self-generated growth remained a priority but the company was
more willing to look at possible acquisitions than two years
Under the leadership of Stefan Heidenreich, who took over as
chief executive in April 2012 at a time when the group was
losing market share to the likes of L'Oreal SA,
Beiersdorf has redesigned its Nivea logo, focused on emerging
markets, stripped out underperforming lines and regained market
Heidenreich said the reorganisation known as "Blue Agenda"
was paying off. "Beiersdorf is back on a sustainable growth
track," the CEO, whose contract was in January extended to the
end of 2019, said in a statement.
The company, whose brands also include Atrixo and Eucerin,
gave no further details of its acquisition strategy or what
specific areas it might be looking to expand in.
Beiersdorf shares were up 1.6 percent at 73.26 euros by 1022
GMT, having bounced from a four-month low of 70.34 euros set
earlier in the session. The stock hit a record 77.33 euros in
January in the wake of the company's announcement of
Heidenrich's contract extension and its highest sales growth for
Beiersdorf said on Tuesday it plans to open a new factory in
India in 2015 as it aims to offset weak consumer spending in the
developed markets of Europe and North America.
The company said its full-year 2013 comparable earnings
before interest and tax reached 814 million euros ($1.1
billion), against an average analyst forecast of 824 million.
For 2014, the company said it expects sales to rise by
between 4 and 6 percent, while its EBIT margin - earnings as a
percentage of sales - would be slightly above the 2013 level of
The consensus forecast had been for 2014 sales growth of 6.3
percent, according to analysts at DZ Bank, who called the
forecast "somewhat disappointing at first glance". They noted
however, that "it makes a lot of sense to provide a cautious
guidance at the beginning of the year."
In recent years, Beiersdorf has upgraded its forecasts
toward the end of the year.
The company also said it would keep its dividend flat at
0.70 euros per share, confounding expectations for an increase
to 0.81 euros.
Sales at the company's main consumer division rose 1.2
percent in western Europe last year, the first growth since
2008, Beiersdorf said.
Sales were "generally very good," said Bernstein Research
analyst Andrew Wood, but earnings and margins were
disappointing, particularly in the fourth quarter.
Beiersdorf stock trades on nearly 29 times expected 2014
earnings, a level Wood called expensive given the company's
current level of performance.
At the company's Tesa adhesives division, which makes
industrial adhesives used in cars, smartphones and tablet
computers, sales should grow faster than predicted market growth
of 2 to 3 percent this year, but its operating margin will drop
slightly from 2013's 16.9 percent, Beiersdorf added.
In the consumer segment, sales growth should outperform
market growth of 4 to 6 percent, with its margin increasing
($1 = 0.7260 euros)
(Reporting by Jan Schwartz, Kirsti Knolle and Till Weber;
Writing by Victoria Bryan and Martinne Geller; Editing by David
Goodman and David Holmes)