Bill Nygren's Oakmark Comments on Akzo Nobel
Akzo Nobel (AKZOY) has been on our approved list since mid-2008, but two recent events persuaded us to finally add it to the Fund. First, the share price has fallen as the company has experienced demand weakness in Europe, particularly in its consumer-oriented businesses, such as decorative paints. Over the past few years, Akzo Nobel’s restructuring program has resulted in increased profitability in its performance coatings and specialty chemicals units, and we think that this trend will continue. Management’s endeavors to improve the cost structure of both businesses, as well as its successful price adjustments to encompass raw material inflation, have boosted profitability. Management remains focused on expanding the company and improving the performance of the decorative paints division. Second, we are excited about the appointment of new CEO Ton Büchner, who took over the role in April. Mr. Büchner had been the CEO of Sulzer since 2005, and he enjoyed a strong track record. In recent years, we have become acquainted with Ton and trust that his highly regarded leadership ability will propel Akzo Nobel to greater performance.