Why Investors Are Bingeing on Snack-Maker Mondelez

February 22, 2017, 7:07 PM UTC
Kraft Deal Puts More Pressure On Low-Growth Foodmakers
Daniel Acker — Bloomberg via Getty Images

Shares of Mondelez International are up more than 5% this week, amid rumors that the snack maker may be the next company Kraft Heinz has targeted for acquisition.

Investor interest in Mondelez, which produces brands such as Oreo, Nabisco, and Triscuit, began to swirl Sunday after Kraft Heinz (KHC) called off its attempt to buy Anglo-Dutch consumer-goods giant Unilever (UL) for $143 billion. Mondelez stock (MDLZ) had dropped late last week when news of the potential Unilever purchase broke, but this week’s rally has regained all that ground and put the company within striking distance of its all-time high of $46.40, set last November.

A merger between Mondelez and Kraft Heinz would be an interesting development, considering that the two used to be part of the same company. In October 2012, Mondelez was created after Kraft split into two publicly traded companies: Kraft Foods Group, which focuses on grocery store staples, and Mondelez, which focuses on snack foods. Kraft later merged with Heinz, in a transaction that put the cost-cutting Brazilian private-equity firm 3G Capital in charge of the new company and set the stage for a rapid-fire series of acquisitions in the food industry.

For more on Mondelez, see this Fortune video:


Should Kraft Heinz extend an offer to Mondelez, it would be somewhat of an admission that the two companies may have been better off together the whole time. In the years since the split, Mondelez has been in a bit of a slump. Earlier this month, the company reported that its quarterly revenue fell 8.1% to $6.77 billion, a continuation of the company’s declining sales figures over the last three years. (A bid by Mondelez to boost revenue by acquiring chocolate-maker Hershey fell through last summer.)

Part of the problem has been the strong U.S. dollar, which has made Mondelez’s products more expensive overseas. The company derives more than 70% of its sales outside of North America, so the sales hits have been noticeable.

In an effort to boost sales, Mondelez announced Tuesday that it is launching a major new brand in July that is aimed specifically at the millennial demographic. Products in the new line, called Vea, will include crunch bars, crackers, and chips, and they’ll be made without any artificial ingredients, trans fats, or GMOs.

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