No, packaged-goods giant Unilever
This strikes me as surprising only from the standpoint that interested buyers are unlikely to storm the gates, in my view. WSJ's sources indicated that Clorox would ask roughly $800 million for the two brands, or a whopping 2.6 times annual brand sales.
For perspective, Clorox shares trade at a price-to-sales ratio of 1.6, and Unilever not long ago agreed to pay roughly 1.7 times segment sales for Sara Lee's personal-care portfolio. Unless I've missed something, shiny tires and well-lubricated pistons don't hold the same sway over cautious consumers, as does the promise of rosy cheeks and good breath. Which is to say that Clorox -- if we can believe the unnamed sources -- may have to settle for much less.
But even at a lower price, potential buyers are probably few in number. Because the STP and Armor All brands are sold domestically as well as internationally, a buyer would likely need to have a similar geographic footprint in order to take full advantage of the brands' value. That rules out U.S.-focused auto parts and accessory retailers such as O'Reilly Automotive
A global company such as Unilever, to which investment bankers have reportedly put out feelers, is a closer match, but even here I have my doubts. If the auto-care market doesn't fit with Clorox's core product focus, I don't see why Unilever would see it as enhancing its own portfolio, which includes the brands Dove and Slim-Fast, in addition to internationally marketed household cleaners such as Cif and Domestos bleach.
In this regard, ExxonMobil
Ultimately, Clorox isn't alone in attempting to rejigger its product portfolio. Industry behemoth Procter & Gamble
In the meantime, my car's dashboard, come to think of it, is looking a bit dull ...
Wal-Mart Stores is a Motley Fool Inside Value choice. Unilever is a Global Gains recommendation. Clorox, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever are Income Investor recommendations. The Fool owns shares of Procter & Gamble. Try any of our Foolish newsletters, free for 30 days.