Package goods shopping list

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DIAL CORP.
Key brands: Dial soap and body washes, Purex laundry detergent, Renuzit air fresheners, Armour canned meats
Sales: $1.65 billion
Market capitalization: $1.5 billion
Potential partners: Henkel, Kao Corp., Lion, Clorox Co., Church & Dwight, Rayovac Corp., Playtex Products, Alberto-Culver.
Taking the reins of Dial in August at age 63, with a compensation package based heavily on stock performance, Chairman-CEO Herb Baum has made no secret of his willingness to sell the company in parts or whole. The trouble is finding a buyer, says Deutsche Bank Alex. Brown analyst Andrew Shore, who believes Kao, Henkel and other buyers aren't interested in the whole thing and tax implications render piecemeal sales impractical. Mr. Baum has also suggested alliances or mergers with other like-size companies.

GILLETTE CO.
Key Brands: Gillette men's and women's razors; Gillette and Right Guard personal care; Oral-B oral care; Braun men's shaving
Sales: $9.5 billion
Market Capitalization: $36 billion
Potential Partners: P&G, Colgate-Palmolive Co.
Priciest acquisition by far. The Duracell battery business, a leader in a category whose long-term growth rate of 7% has been twice that of the rest of the package-goods industry, was likely as much the draw for P&G, which reportedly expressed interest in 1999. Another hook is Gillette's dominant position in global men's shaving, said Burt Flickinger, managing director of Reach Marketing.

CLOROX CO.
Key Brands: Clorox laundry additives, Pine Sol and Formula 409 household cleaners, Armor All and STP automotive products, Hidden Valley dressings, Kingsford charcoal, KC Masterpiece barbecue sauce.
Sales: $4.1 billion
Market Capitalization: $7.8 billion
Potential Partners: Henkel, Colgate-Palmolive Co.
Henkel is most frequently mentioned by analysts as a possible suitor. And anyone who wants to buy Clorox would likely have to get by Henkel, which already owns more than 26% of the company and has three seats on its board.

PACTIV CORP.
Key Brands: Hefty food storage and trash bags, commercial and industrial packaging.
Sales: $2.9 billion
Market Capitalization: $1.9 billion
Potential Partners: P&G, Clorox Co.
Clorox once privately expressed interest in Hefty, but troubles integrating First Brands business may make the company reluctant to do another deal. Pactiv's commercial and industrial packaging business and debt make it less attractive. But fueling takeover speculation is investor Mario Gabelli. His Gabelli Asset Management fund owns Ralston Purina stock, and he correctly predicted Ralston would become a takeover target.

ENERGIZER HOLDINGS
Key Brands: Energizer batteries
Sales: $1.9 billion
Market Capitalization: $2.2 billion
Potential Partners: Procter & Gamble, possibly others
Spun off from Ralston Purina last year, Energizer has been on a tear, taking market share from the category leader, Gillette's Duracell. If batteries are what P&G or others want, Energizer can be had for a tiny fraction of Gillette's price.

RAYOVAC CORP.
Key Brands: Rayovac batteries
Sales: $703 million
Market Capitalization: $459 million
Potential Partners: Dial, P&G

Value-priced batteries and value-priced market cap compared to other battery makers make Rayovac a potential target. Key shareholder is Thomas H. Lee, whose investment funds tend to cash out of investments after five years on average. But the stock has been in the doldrums since analysts realized the company would have trouble topping last year's fourth-quarter sales superheated by Y2K stockpiling. Dial has indicated an interest.

PLAYTEX PRODUCTS
Key Brands: Playtex infant care and tampons, Wet Ones wipes, Banana Boat sun care.
Sales: $841 million
Market Capitalization: $525 million
Potential Partners: Kimberly-Clark Corp., Kao, Dial
How's this for direct? During a conference call discussing an earnings disappointment in October, one angry investment fund manager asked Chairman-CEO Michael Gallagher: "Why don't you just sell the company?" Having done battle against the likes of P&G, Johnson & Johnson and Novartis, Mr. Gallagher doesn't appear interested yet.

CARTER-WALLACE
Key Brands: Trojan condoms, Nair, Arrid deodorant
Sales: $782 million
Market Capitalization: $1.1 billion
Potential Partners: Chattem, Playtex Products
Carter-Wallace has put consumer brands Trojan, Nair and Arrid up for sale separately from its medical diagnostic business, which is also up for grabs.

Copyright January 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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