Michael Polk, the beleaguered president and chief executive of Newell Brands, will be retiring at the end of the second quarter. With an annual salary of more than $21 million, he has been running the company and the former Newell Rubbermaid since July 2011, masterminding the merger with the former Jarden Corporation in 2016.
According to a company statement, the board and Polk have agreed that the nearing completion of Newell's “Accelerated Transformation Plan” provides a good opportunity for a change of management. The board has engaged Heidrick & Struggles to help find a new CEO.
The Accelerated Transformation Plan was meant to restructure the consumer products group into seven divisions, after the acquisition of Jarden: Appliances & Cookware, Writing, Outdoor & Recreation, Baby, Food, Home Fragrance and Safety & Security. To this end, the divestiture of K2 and other former winter sports and fishing tackle brands of Jarden plus Rawlings, Jostens and parts of Rubbermaid was intended to generate proceeds of about $10 billion and help pay down debt.
Newell plans to maintain an annual dividend of $0.92 per share through 2019. However, Newell has been posting sluggish sales and missing targets since the acquisition of Jarden. Newell's stock price has been more than halved since Jarden's acquisition. It dropped by more than 20 percent in mid-February, after the release of its fourth-quarter results for 2018.
The quarterly net revenues from continuing operations were down by 6 percent to $2.3 billion. The reported operating margin declined from 5.7 percent to 0.8 percent, and it was down to $110 million from $131 million on a “normalized” basis. Net earnings fell by 87 percent to $208.1 million.
In Newell's Home & Outdoor Living segment, which includes Coleman, sales were off by 7 percent to $872 million in the quarter. Besides unfavorable foreign exchange rates, part of the reason for a 3 percent decline in the sales of core brands was Coleman's decision to stop sales of coolers and airbeds to a key U.S. retailer to avoid price cuts.
For the full fiscal year, Newell reported a 10 percent drop in revenues to $8.63 billion and a net loss of $6,917.9 million, after goodwill impairment charges of more than $8 billion. This compares with net income of $2,748.8 million in the previous year.
Among the brands that have remained in Newell's portfolio are, besides Coleman, Marmot, Paper Mate, Sharpie, Dymo, Parker, Elmer's, Oster, Sunbeam, FoodSaver, Mr. Coffee, Graco, Baby Jogger, NUK, Calphalon, Rubbermaid, Contigo, First Alert and Yankee Candle.