4 Things You May Not Know About J.M. Smucker

Here are four interesting things you may not know about J.M. Smucker.

Jan 5, 2014 at 11:00AM

By doing investment research you can learn some interesting things about your target company. For example, in the SEC filings of food giant J.M. Smucker (NYSE:SJM) there's information about competitors such as rival food giant Hormel (NYSE:HRL), licensing partners such as Dunkin Brands, and the impact of retail giant Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) on J.M. Smucker's top line. J.M. Smucker's corporate website provides additional information including the company's long and rich history that can serve as a cultural underpinning for continued long-term performance. Here are four things you may not know about J.M. Smucker.

King of peanut butter
The name J.M. Smucker typically conjures up images of jellies and jams when in fact it sells a wide variety of food items under brands owned by the company and under license through someone else. J.M Smucker sells the Jif peanut butter brand which maintains a 20 year market leadership position in that category according to the company's form 10-K.  According to fellow Fool Larissa Faw, competitor Hormel which currently owns the Skippy peanut butter brand wants a change in the status quo. Hormel decided to invest more in the marketing of its peanut butter brand. Its executives feel that this "wonderful brand" hasn't been talked about in a while and the company wants consumers to think Skippy when hearing the words peanut butter and not Jif. Hormel grew it's sales by $521 million last year with the Skippy acquisition contributing $273 million or roughly half of that growth. Hormel's expansion in its shelf stable foods such as Skippy increases Hormel's product diversity. Company executives see a stable commodity environment in 2014 enabling continued growth in its financials which bodes well for its shareholders and providing serious competition for J.M. Smucker.

Coffee, milk, and cake mix
J.M. Smucker also sells coffee which actually represents the company's most profitable segment.  In 2008, J.M. Smucker bought the Folger's coffee brand from Proctor & Gamble which it now sells in K-Cup form as well as in traditional bags and cans.  Folger's competes with the Maxwell House brand sold by Kraft Foods.  Under license from a Dunkin Brands subsidiary, J.M. Smucker also sells packaged coffee under the "Dunkin Donuts" brand in retail outlets that sell groceries and food. J.M. Smucker pays a royalty to Dunkin Brands and holds the license until the start of 2034.  Interestingly, J.M. Smucker operates under royalty free licenses. For example, J.M. Smucker holds a license from Nestle to sell Carnation canned milk products in Canada according to its form 10-K. Moreover, J.M. Smucker holds royalty free licenses to sell Borden's condensed milk and Pillsbury cake mix. 

The Wal-Mart effect
Wal-Mart currently operates 4,156 stores in the United States many of which sells food meaning it makes a huge financial impact on food manufacturers such as J.M. Smucker . An estimated 26% of J.M. Smucker's sales came from Wal-Mart during fiscal year 2013.  This means that Wal-Mart's purchasing policies can make a huge difference in J.M. Smucker's future. It also means that J.M. Smucker's future depends on a relatively small number of retail chains. In other words, any Wal-Mart suffering will spill over onto J.M. Smucker. Wal-Mart's 66%  market share means its influence on J.M. Smucker and other companies will continue. Wal-Mart's market dominance will ensure sustainability of its financials which provides support for its current dividend yield of 2.4%.

Smucker family still influences the company
According to the company's corporate website, J.M. Smucker can trace its roots back to 1897 when Jerome Monroe Smucker opened a mill in Orrville, Ohio.  Today the Smucker family still controls more than 4% of the company's stock according to its proxy statement.  In addition at least four members of the Smucker family hold seats on the company's board and reside in management positions. The CEO of J.M. Smucker is Richard Smucker. It's in the family members' best interest that the quality of the Smucker name remains intact. Their wealth stands to suffer just like J.M. Smucker's shareholders at large.

Foolish takeaway
J.M. Smucker's diverse product portfolio, licensing relationships, and long rich history serve as a qualitative recipe for superior long-term performance. However, Foolish investors may want to keep an eye on this company's eroding cash flow.   They may want to look toward Hormel which actually grew its operating cash flow 23% last year or Wal-Mart which acts as a toll bridge for both of these companies. You may want to add these companies to your Motley Fool Watch List and perform deeper research to determine if their worthy of investment.

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William Bias owns shares of Kraft Foods and Wal-Mart Stores. The Motley Fool recommends Procter & Gamble. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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