Tupperware takes the party worldwide

The company now counts on emerging markets for most of its sales. This isn't the Tupperware of old.

By Kim Peterson Aug 23, 2011 1:48PM
When times get tough, the tough turn to Tupperware (TUP).

The stock is on a roll, up nearly 4% Tuesday to $62.20. Shares have soared 50% in the past year. Investors are confident that Tupperware has evolved from the jello-mold days of old into a company that now has a worldwide presence.

Tupperware has a direct sales force of 2.6 million around the world, the company tells The Associated Press. The old-fashioned Tupperware party is still around -- but now one takes place every 1.7 seconds, compared with every 2.3 seconds a few years ago.

The chief executive of Tupperware spoke with Jim Cramer in the following video. Check out the very interesting discussion about emerging markets.

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As layoffs hit the spiraling economy, more women turned to the likes of Avon (AVP) and Tupperware as other jobs became harder to find. Tupperware watched as its worldwide sales grew last year to $2.3 billion. Second-quarter revenue rose 19% to $670 million. The company has seen seven straight quarters of positive sales and earnings growth.

Give Tupperware credit for changing with the times. It sells a $40 fashion lunch set that you'd be proud to carry into the office. The unbreakable champagne flutes actually look good. The salad-on-the-go set is a winner. Tupperware has modernized its colors, too, offering "margarita," "azure" and "fuchsia kiss."

But Tupperware is not cheap. If you want cheap, get the plastic containers on supermarket shelves. Tupperware will outlast them, but you will pay for that longevity.

The company gets most of its sales from home parties, which is kind of charming in this day and age. "It still works," chief executive Rick Goings told AP.  "People still have the same values. We're sensing people want to get reconnected."

And Goings hopes that holds true worldwide. In France, the company's best-selling product costs $140. There's still growth in traditional markets, but the real action is in emerging markets. Emerging markets already make up about 58% of company sales, and Tupperware wants more. Sales are especially solid in Brazil, India, Indonesia and Singapore.

The hottest product in India? A $4 water bottle.

"If somebody says are we an emerging-market-only play, no, it's not an or, it's an and for Tupperware," Goings said on a recent conference call. "And we do very well in both kinds of markets."

Tupperware's share price recently slipped as the company gave a disappointing third-quarter forecast. The company estimated its earnings to be 79 cents to 84 cents a share. Analysts were expecting 83 cents a share. But the company raised its full-year earnings outlook to between $4.50 to $4.60 a share.
Aug 23, 2011 3:36PM
I have some of my grandmother's tupperware!  It is virtually indestructible and except for the awful colors, it still works great!
Aug 23, 2011 4:06PM
I too have some Tupperware that I inherited and it still works fine.  The great thing about this stuff is that you don't even have to take good care of it.  I guess after a nuclear disaster there will still be cockroaches and Tupperware.!
Aug 23, 2011 3:54PM
Sharon...I guess that's a matter of opinion. I love the old pastel colors of the Wonderlier line. I buy 'em up on ebay, can't beat 'em.
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