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Quick Summary Mars is one of the largest and most secretive privately held companies in the United States. That means there is no Mars stock available on Robinhood or any other broker. The Mars Inc. portfolio includes dozens of household names ranging from Snickers bars to Whiskas cat food. It is unlikely that Mars will ever have an IPO.
Introduction: Is Mars Publicly Traded?
Mars, Inc. is the fourth largest privately held company in the US, according to Forbes. This means there is no Mars stock symbol to find on Robinhood or other brokers and based on the profitability and ownership structure of the company, there likely will never be an opportunity here for public stock investors.
The company’s executives have stressed that the success of the company is in part due to its privately held structure that allows them to avoid short-term pressures from Wall Street and to make major business decisions quickly.
Mars: A Brief Company History
Mars, Inc. is one of the largest food companies on the planet, with revenues of $40 billion and 130,000 employees worldwide. The company was founded by Frank C. Mars in 1911 in the kitchen of his Tacoma, Washington home. Today the company is headquartered in McLean, Virginia.
Expanding from a modest food company, Mars is now the premier name in mainstream candy and chocolate. After acquiring Wrigley in 2008, owns well-known brands ranging from Snickers, M&Ms, Skittles and Extra chewing gum among others. The company also has a robust pet care business including Whiskas cat food.
The company is currently run by the grandchildren of Frank C. Mars and the family is listed as the third richest in America according to a Forbes list.
Like many large consumer food companies, Mars has not been without its share of controversies, ranging from alleged involvement in forced labor on palm oil plantations to criticism from animal rights organizations related to animal testing.
As a private company known for a secretive culture, the company is somewhat less vulnerable to pressure from advocacy groups compared to publicly traded companies, although it seems Mars has taken proactive steps to clarify its positions on some of these issues.
Mars Stock IPO Outlook
A potential Mars stock IPO is very unlikely.
Mars is known as one of the more secretive companies for its size. The company operates in extremely competitive consumer staples segments including food and pet care. Some analysts have speculated this secrecy around its operations is a competitive advantage for the company compared to publicly traded rivals. If this is the case, it’s difficult to see why Mars would want to explore a public stock IPO in the future.
While the company’s reputation for secrecy over the years is well earned, it seems as though the firm is making an effort to tell its story more in recent years with a smattering of media interviews and profiles starting in 2018.
During this round of media coverage, we heard directly from Mars executives about how they view the advantages of their privately held status. These comments demonstrate why a Mars stock IPO is very unlikely in the near or distant future.
Mars chairman Stephen Badger told Business Insider the following in 2018:
“We’re 100% committed to staying private. It really does allow us to pursue our own path, our own future, and to really invest in the long term.”
“Being private does give us a competitive advantage in that we know who our shareholders are. We could fit them all in quite a small room if we had to. And so the ability of management to interface with the shareholders is very direct. It’s very tangible. It’s very immediate. And, I think it does give us the capacity to make decisions quickly.”Stephen Badger, as quoted in Business Insider, 2018
The Business Insider article goes on to note that in 2008, when Mars was considering making its largest ever acquisition of rival Wrigley, the decision to proceed with the $23 billion purchase was made after a “very quick conversation” among all shareholders, a process that would have been impossible to complete with the same speed were it a public company.
With recent comments as emphatic as this in the press, a highly profitable business and one that remains firmly under family control, investors should likely look elsewhere for potential investments. This is a pattern we have chronicled again and again when it comes to successful privately held businesses such as New Balance and Chick-fil-A; the truly profitable privately held companies don’t need or want stock investors and actually attribute much of their companies’ success to the fact they have avoided Wall Street.
Mars Competitors Available on Robinhood
While you can’t invest in Mars and likely never will be able to, there are luckily some decent alternatives in the competitive space available on Robinhood. Be sure to research the details of these companies before deciding to invest.
- The Hershey Company (HSY)
- Mondelez International (MDLZ)
- Nestle (NSRGY)
Another competitor in the chocolate space, Lindt Sprungl, is publicly traded, but unfortunately not available on Robinhood.
Mars is one of a number of large and profitable privately owned companies that we are unlikely to see on Robinhood in the near future.