- Mondelez International reported Wednesday morning a sales decline of 16.6% to $7.36 billion for the fourth quarter, attributed in part to currency headwinds and the sale of most of the company's coffee business. Full-year 2015 sales fell 13.5%.
- Those sales, plus a $778 million charge for accounting changes in its business in Venezuela, contributed to a loss of $729 million for the quarter. Sales fell last quarter as well, by 18%, though they beat analysts' estimates.
- Cost-saving continues to be a focal point for Mondelez (though investors feel they're not enough), and those efforts have driven an increased adjusted gross profit margin, which was 38.9% in 2015, up 230 basis points.
More key growth for Mondelez will be its e-commerce efforts, which the company is investing in heavily to reach its goal of $1 billion in e-commerce sales by 2020. That investment has included "buy now" buttons in shoppable ads, Oreo Colorfilled packaging consumers could personalize online (which led to a partnership with Zulily), and adding a respected consumer goods e-commerce leader to its board.
In addition to e-commerce sales and marketing efforts, Mondelez has also introduced a new concept, the Oreo Wonder Vault in New York City, which dispenses new Oreo varieties days, months, or even years before they launch, with the current featured product being Filled Cupcake Oreos. The vault is obviously a marketing tool but also an innovative way for Oreo to test new products still in development. Manufacturers can look to such a strategy to encourage engagement with consumers, in terms of both interest and product development.
Mondelez recently announced the first round of layoffs at its Chicago bakery, which prompted a lawsuit and discrimination complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers union. The layoffs are part of a cost-cutting measure that sent new production lines to Mondelez's plant in Salinas, Mexico, which means the closure of several production lines at the Chicago bakery.
Activists like Bill Ackman, who disclosed a $5.5 billion stake last year in the company, continue to offer their opinions on Mondelez's cost-cutting and growth strategies. But chairman and CEO Irene Rosenfeld, who ranked No. 9 on Fortune's Most Powerful Women list last year and No. 34 on The Daily Meal's recent list for America’s 50 Most Powerful People in Food for 2016, told The Wall Street Journal in December that she is "successfully running Mondelez for all shareholders — without the activists’ help."