Reckitt Benckiser launches £1 billion buyback initiative as quarterly sales surge

Reckitt Benckiser Group (LSE: RKT) unveiled a £1 billion buyback program as the consumer goods giant reported a quarterly sales boost on Wednesday, albeit coupled with a drop in its share value.

In the morning hours of Wednesday, shares in Reckitt Benckiser tumbled 3.1% to 5,734.00 each in London, but the company’s overall performance reveals a more promising story.

During the third quarter of 2023, Reckitt witnessed a robust 3.4% increase in like-for-like sales, amassing a total of £2.60 billion. This impressive surge was primarily fuelled by the substantial growth of 8.1% in its Hygiene division and 5.4% in its Health sector. However, this achievement was partially dampened by a 12% downturn in the Nutrition segment.

Despite the strong performance in these specific sectors, the company’s total sales took a slight dip, falling by 3.6%. Furthermore, group volumes saw a decline of 4.1%.

Taking a broader perspective, Reckitt’s year-to-date financials reveal a solid 5.1% growth in like-for-like revenue, amounting to a substantial £11.04 billion.

Looking ahead, Reckitt Benckiser remains focused on its strategic goals. The company is committed to achieving a group Like-for-Like (LFL) net revenue growth rate of 3% to 5% throughout 2023. Moreover, it anticipates adjusted operating margins to surpass 2022 levels, aiming for approximately 24%.

In response to the latest financial results, CEO Kris Licht acknowledged the need for ongoing improvement, stating, “We do, however, have room to sharpen and improve. We will continue to invest in the superiority of our products, work to improve the consistency of our in-market execution, and optimize our cost base. At the same time, we will constantly sharpen our portfolio in line with our clear principles for portfolio value creation.”

Capitalising on its strong performance and solid financial footing, Reckitt Benckiser is poised to kickstart a £1 billion share buyback initiative. This program will commence promptly and is expected to extend over the next 12 months.

Licht concluded, “With our strong growth and sector-leading earnings model, a clear set of priorities to sharpen and improve our business, significant free cash flow generation, and a healthy balance sheet, we are now well-positioned to deliver sustainable and leading total shareholder returns.”