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Newell Rubbermaid CEO: Behind its big turnaround

Whenever Jim Cramer sees a large company pull off a magnificent turnaround he knows the stock will have the ability to rally for years to come and only take an occasional breather.

Newell Rubbermaid is the composition of brands in housewares, home furnishings and office products. It is best known for Rubbermaid plastic storage containers, Sharpie pens, Calphalon cookware and much more.

After being undermanaged for many years, in 2012 management rolled out a multiyear restructuring plan called the Growth Game Plan. Since that time, the stock has been unstoppable, up more than 100 percent since its current CEO Michael Polk took over in June 2011.





Employees assemble food containers on a production line at the Newell Rubbermaid factory in Mogadore, Ohio.
Ty Wright | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Employees assemble food containers on a production line at the Newell Rubbermaid factory in Mogadore, Ohio.

While the company reported a 1-cent earnings beat from a 61-cent basis last Friday, Cramer was impressed that management increased its core sales growth forecast for the rest of the year. To learn more, Cramer spoke with Polk.

"Every brand has opportunity to grow. Growth is really the engine that powers us, and that's what we've been focused on the last number of years. How do you unlock the trapped capacity to grow these brands," Polk said.

The CEO added that one of the keys to the success behind the company is to allow ideas to trump macro issues. By not letting the headwinds get in the way, the company can then focus on creating commercialization and value from the ideas.

Polk explained that there are two engines in its business model: one focused on brand development and innovation, and the other focused on commercialization and creating value from ideas. This has led to success within the Rubbermaid food space in particular, as the concept of saving food has resonated with a more socially conscious culture in the U.S.

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In fact, Polk said that when he returned from Europe recently, he was surprised at how socially conscious the consumer population in the U.S. had become. Americans throw out some 68 billion pounds of food a year — enough to fill the Empire State building 91 times.

As a result, Newell Rubbermaid's products leverage the core framework of food storage by preserving food for a longer period of time.

"A huge step forward in value proposition that taps into building an American social consciousness around doing the right thing every day," Polk said.

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