C&D on hunt for next blockbuster acquisition opportunity

BOSTON — Church & Dwight is on the hunt for its next acquisition, after having successfully integrated its gummy vitamin line from Avid Health, chairman and CEO James Craigie told analysts at the 2013 Barclays Back-to-School Consumer Conference held here Tuesday. 

And C&D may be as few as three years away from fielding an OTC product in a gummy format. 

"I sometimes think, honestly, acquisition is one of the greatest strengths for my company," Craigie said. "We will only buy a No. 1 or 2 share brand [and] we want brands that are higher growth, higher margins," he said. C&D is also patient, Craigie said. "We waited two-and-a-half years for our Avid acquisition since our last big acquisition [before that], which was Orajel."

Regarding the Avid Health line of gummy vitamins, Craigie continues to be bullish. "Here is a $7 billion category with consistent strong growth [with] 57% of adults using nutritional supplements," he said. "And with the aging trends and the healthcare trends this will continue to grow very strong."

Church & Dwight fields the No. 1 kids vitamin brand in L'il Critters, which fields a 64% marketshare, Craigie said. And while its adult line, Vitafusion, only has a 5% share, the adult opportunity is much greater. "The kids business is wonderful but the adult business, the category is 20 times the size of the kids business," he said. "The adult side [of gummy vitamins] is growing at 57% in the recent time period."

Overall, sales of vitamins are up 7%, Craigie noted. Avid Health products are outpacing that with 34% growth in the past year. 

Beyond gummy vitamins, there may be an opportunity within gummy OTCs, Craigie added. "Why can't we take the gummy form and go to other OTC categories that are out there — aspirin, cough and cold, allergies … especially for kids," he said. "That's not easy to do, we have to mask the bad flavors in many situations, we have to keep the active ingredient inside the product," he acknowledged. "But we see that as a good opportunity which we hopefully can start to leverage three or five years from now."

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