Newell Brands Inc. (NYSE: NWL) is having a garage sale. The company behind Graco strollers, Sharpie markers and a range of other consumer goods announced on Oct. 4 that it's going to divest nearly 10 percent of its business following the completion of its $15 billion acquisition of Jarden earlier in 2016. The assets up for sale include Rubbermaid large consumer-storage containers (those big bins you use for stowing away Christmas decorations, sweaters and such), the majority of the company's tools segment, its winter-sports unit and its heaters, humidifiers and fans. If that sounds like a random assortment, welcome to the company that is Newell Brands.
CEO Michael Polk has been telegraphing for months that he's going to put businesses on the chopping block, though the magnitude of this divestiture package and some of the specific units he's decided to part with are a bit of a surprise, notes Piper Jaffray analyst Stephanie Wissink. All told, they accounted for about $1.5 billion in revenue in 2015 and include $100 million of assets previously earmarked for disposal. Newell won Mergers & Acquisitions’ 2015 M&A Mid-Market Award for Strategic Buyer of the Year.
While Polk is hoping he can find a buyer for everything he's looking to get rid of, he's previously cautioned that this might not happen. Most of the businesses put up for sale on aren't all that profitable, says Wissink, who estimates there's likely not much more than $100 million of Ebitda at stake here. But these are things that could easily be more valuable in the hands of another company and most should find a new home. Let's see if we can play matchmaker for a few of the bigger assets.
One of the largest assets up for grabs is Newell's tool division, which includes brands such as Irwin, Lenox and Hilmor. The business had an adjusted operating margin of 11.7 percent in the most recent quarter, versus 15.8 percent for the company as a whole, so it won't be missed much. Sears Holding Corp. (Nasdaq: SHLD) is also shopping around its Craftsman tool business, a better-known brand that's reportedly drawn interest from Stanley Black & Decker Inc. (NYSE: SWK), Apex Tool Group, Techtronic Industries of Hong Kong and Sweden's Husqvarna. They can't all win. The amount of interest could turn Newell's portfolio of brands into a consolation prize of sorts.
Newell's winter-sports unit, which includes K2 snowboards and Volkl ski equipment acquired as part of the Jarden takeover, could be a good fit for a private equity firm. In particular, Altamont Capital could be interested in rolling more action-sports brands into a portfolio that already includes Dakine skiing gear and Mervin snowboards.
It's harder to come up with a logical strategic buyer for the unit. Sporting equipment probably isn't all that appealing right now given the recent bankruptcies of Sports Authority, City Sports, and Vestis Retail (the parent company of Eastern Mountain Sports and Sport Chalet). Clothing manufacturers might be interested in Newell's Marmot brand, which sells ski jackets and fleeces, but that isn't considered part of the winter sports division.
As for the storage-container and home-environment businesses, it's not clear who would be interested. Helen of Troy Ltd. (Nasdaq: HELE), a $2.4 billion maker of household products, also sells air purifiers, humidifiers and fans so it could perhaps take a look, though a deal could run up against regulatory pushback. Newell says the sales processes are already underway and that it aims to complete the divestitures within the first half of 2017. We'll know soon enough who's buying what -- and what, if anything, gets left on the shelf.