Unilever (UL & UN) recently popped up on one of the value screens that I follow, and I was a bit surprised that this brand name giant might be selling for a discount price. Then this morning I spotted several news items concerning Unilever, and they didn’t sound very promising. They all revolved around a news release by Unilever that revises their earning guidance down from double digit to single digit growth for the year. The cause for the slow down was blamed on poor weather in Northern Europe this summer and weaker consumer confidence in Western Europe. Mr. Market was not happy at all with that announcement and sent share prices down over six percent this morning. Could this possibly be our first fat pitch to come over our plate? Let’s take a closer look. Few things are more important to the success of your estate plan than the attorney you choose to design and draft it. Almost as important is the relationship that is formed between that attorney and other professional advisors who serve you in the areas of financial advice and accounting. The attorney will carry on a sensitive dialogue that will enable you to make clear your wishes to maintain control over your affairs, to be cared for properly in the event of a disability and to provide meaningfully for your loved ones after you are gone. You can check this Home Page for the Helping Raleigh Businesses & Families With Proper Legal & Estate Planning. All successful estate planning is the result of several professions working together for the good of the client. However, professionals of one group sometimes have misconceptions of professionals belonging to other groups. For example, the financial advisor may see the estate planning attorney as little more than a document scrivener. But this is far from the truth. Many attorneys who limit their practice to estate planning are values-based, relationship-driven, client-centered and counseling-oriented. And the good ones are willing to work together with other professionals on your behalf. They understand that thorough estate planning involves more than just legal advice. The key is to find those attorneys who meet this description. So where do you find these rare creatures? How do you know if you’re dealing with the right kind of attorney? The right kind of attorney will have an orientation toward relationship-building and counseling rather than mere document preparation. The first thing he or she will offer is the ability to listen carefully to not only your goals – but also your hopes, dreams, and aspirations for yourself and your loved ones. Estate planning is the process of managing and parceling out an estate to reduce the taxes owed and to transfer assets to beneficiaries after someone dies. The goal being that all of your financial wishes are met upon your death and are not determined by a court. You plan your estate through legal entities like trusts, wills, powers of attorney, health care surrogacies, etc. These are critical legal tools that will help your spouse and your family after you die and avoid having your estate go into probate and be settled by a judge. When you begin to make a plan, you will want to go through an attorney to make sure that all of the requirements are in order for your final wishes to be carried out appropriately as per the laws in your particular state. There are some things you can do to prepare to meet with your estate planning attorney. The first of these is to get your documents in order. You will want the names and addresses of all parties that are associated with your assets. Bank account information, pension and retirement plans, insurance information, household inventory lists, debt list, etc. are all things you will want to bring to a meeting with your estate planning attorney. You want to provide as much information as possible so they can prepare your estate plan as well as possible. When seeking out an estate attorney, there are some things you will want to ask. You will need to know how much they charge for their services, how best to reduce your tax requirement after death, are there any apparent problems with your wishes, are arrangements in order for children, and how often should my will be updated? These are all things you will want to cover initially before beginning your plan. One of the best ways to begin finding an estate attorney is through references. Ask family members and friends who they would recommend. Other people you use can be of help to such as financial advisors, accountants, attorneys you have used in the past, or contact the local bar association. Advertisements can provide information on estate planning attorneys but make sure you ask all the questions you need to before settling on someone to use. You can also do research online and visit websites of estate attorneys in your area. Good attorneys will have a site that will explain the estate planning process and might even have testimonials from happy clients. You will want to make sure that your estate is planned for and that your wealth, no matter how small, is distributed as you want it to be upon your death. At a minimum, people should plan for a power of attorney and have a will to ensure that you and your assets are properly planned for when the time comes to divide up your estate. An attorney that specializes in estate planning attorney is the best choice for this job. Acquiring your own estate planning attorney can prove to be a simple venture as per the aforementioned factors and there are an ample amount of benefits that are associated with acquiring your own personal estate planning attorney. Although there is a myth that estate planning will only benefit those of an affluent nature, every individual throughout the nation will have the ability to reap the benefits of estate planning. If for no other reason than to make things go smoothly for your spouse and family.
My first stop was over to Unilever’s investor relations center to learn a little more about this large European consumer products conglomerate. I was a bit amazed at the number of high quality brand names in Unilever’s stable of products. Here are a few of their many (400 plus) high quality brands:
- Country Crock
- Ben & Jerry’s
- Birds Eye
- Close Up
- Calvin Klein fragrances
Many of these strong brands dominate their product sector and command premium prices. Unilever’s global brands provide the company a major competitive advantage against new entrants in the market.
The company appears to be free of any major legal problems.
Unilever does have substantial pension obligations. They are accounted for using reasonable assumptions. There is also the accounting of stock options, which thankfully have been expensed and are fully included in the financial statements. This is a good indicator that the company practices good conservative accounting.
Return on invested capital has improved from 2002, where it was 9.8%, and in 2003 was 12.5%.
There is still quite a bit more to write about, but I’m out of time. I’ll continue the discussion later today. However, I plan on buying this stock this morning while the price is still a bargain.