Why Campbell Soup Is Selling Its ‘Fresh’ Business

Campbell Soup Company will focus on its North American packaged food and its snack unit, while putting up for sale its “non-core” international and refrigerated food businesses, the company announced on Thursday.

In its fourth-quarter results, Campbell’s reported almost $8.7 billion in sales, with $469 million in earnings before interest and taxes. The EBIT figure is just over a third of its 2017 performance.

Campbell’s announced the move amid an attack from activist shareholder Third Point, which earlier this month began campaigning for the company to sell itself to another food maker. Shares rose when Third Point announced its position. In May, Campbell CEO Denise Morrison resigned amidst declining revenues.

The company’s leadership sees the divestments as making the company more attractive to potential bidders, the Wall Street Journal reports. The units it will sell are Campbell International (including Arnott’s and the Kelsen Group) and Campbell Fresh (which includes Bolthouse Farms, Garden Fresh Gourmet and the company’s refrigerated soup business), which together generated about $2.1 billion in fiscal 2018. Campbell’s has hired Goldman Sachs and Centerview Partners to help it find buyers but did not set at timeframe for potential sales.

Campbell Fresh dates to 2015, when the company tried to tap into growing demand for fresh food, but it suffered declining sales for two years, Reuters reports. Interim President and CEO Keith McLoughlin said in a statement that the plan outlined on Thursday will “build upon our existing strengths.”

Campbell is hosting a conference call today at 8:30 a.m. EDT.

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