Campbell Soup plans to sell international, fresh units

Campbell Soup plans to sell its international business and fresh foods units as it focuses on its core snacks and soup business in North America. 

The Camden, New Jersey, company said Thursday it’s working urgently to complete all the moves by next July. The decision comes as the company conducted a strategic review of its operations following pressure from billionaire activist investor Daniel Loeb and George Strawbridge Jr., grandson of condensed soup inventor John T. Dorrance. The investors had demanded that Campbell Soup sell itself.

The planned sales will leave Campbell Soup with brands including Goldfish, Pepperidge Farm and Snyder’s of Hanover. Still, Campbell Soup is struggling with declining sales in its core soup business.

Campbell Soup said its fresh business includes Bolthouse Farms, Garden Fresh Gourmet and the company’s refrigerated soup business. The company acquired Bolthouse Farms, a provider of premium beverages, salad dressings and carrot snacks, for $1.55 billion in 2012. 

The company said proceeds from the sales would be used to pay down debt.

Separately Campbell Soup posted fiscal fourth-quarter net income of 31 cents per share, or 25 cents per share on an adjusted basis, beating the average Street estimate by a penny. Sales of $2.22 billion fell short.

In premarket trading, shares of the company rose 1 cent to $40. Shares are down nearly 17 percent in the year to date.

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