Lara Pellini

Lara Pellini got her start in retail “as a little kid, helping my mom in her shop” in a small village in Italy’s Tuscany region.

Capital World Investors

Retailing/Food & Drug Chains, Retailing/General

Lara Pellini got her start in retail “as a little kid, helping my mom in her shop” in a small village in Italy’s Tuscany region. Even as a child, she says, she liked to keep an eye on shoppers and observe how they made their buying decisions.

Her powers of observations have paid off: Pellini debuts on Europe’s Best of the Buy Side this year in two Retailing sectors.

The 33-year-old Capital World Investors analyst says she “absolutely loves retail” because “it’s a very tangible sector to cover,” whether she’s analyzing Switzerland’s Cie. Financière Richemont, which makes Cartier watches, or exploring supermarkets in Mexico and Russia. Pellini says she spends about 60 percent of her time visiting companies in their home countries, while also speaking with store managers and customers. She speaks five languages: English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.

Pellini also enjoys “comparing habits across different countries” — for instance, the growing emphasis on convenience, with more supermarkets offering prepared foods in the U.K. and throughout Europe.

“In the past people bought fast food, but now, they go to supermarkets and buy ready meals, and they’re eating at home,” she says. “Convenience is the big trend because the population is getting older.” Pellini also believes the “environmental trend is here to stay,” given the heightened consumer awareness of fabrics made from sustainable resources.

Pellini joined Capital Group Cos. in Los Angeles in 2001, after working as a research fellow for the International Labour Organization in Geneva and as a research assistant to the economics chair at Milan’s Libera Università di Lingue e Comunicazione, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in public relations and economics of information. She also holds a master’s degree in l abor and industrial relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

After completing her training, Pellini started her assignment as the London-based retail and luxury goods analyst for Capital World Investors in 2004. She currently covers about 100 companies in Europe and Latin America — 20 to 25 mid- and large caps and the rest small caps.

“Lara has an excellent global knowledge base that is hard to beat,” says one sell-side admirer.

Pellini contributes to eight funds sponsored by Capital. “For example, if I like a supermarket or food retailer in Mexico, that investment would likely be in our New World Fund, which invests in emerging markets,” she says.

The financial crisis has prompted consumers around the world to slow their spending, but that doesn’t mean Pellini is at a loss for buy recommendations. Many of the luxury watchmakers and handbag designers have brands that “have been around for centuries,” she says, and have margins that are “fortunately, much higher,” making them better able to weather the crisis.

“Hermès International has a huge waiting list on their bags — you can wait for up to two years,” she notes.

In her spare time Pellini likes to play classical guitar “to offset the craziness of the market,” and she returns home frequently to visit her family. “It’s quite nice when you have a strong nest and strong roots — you’re so free in a way,” she says, “because you know that you can always go back to that beautiful little village in Italy.”

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