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JM Smucker sheds baking brands to focus on pet foods, snacking

JM Smucker (SJM), one of the popular food brands in American households, has been busy revamping its brand portfolio for some time, with a focus on strategic acquisitions, to stay relevant in the fast-changing packaged food market. While broadening market share, some of the recent high-value buyouts have also raised concerns about the company’s growing debt and stressed cash flow.

In a move aimed at further streamlining its operations, the company announced the sale of its baking division to Brynwood Partners, a Connecticut-based private equity firm, for $375 million. The sale, which includes Smucker’s flagship brand Pillsbury, is part of the Orrville, Ohio-based company’s efforts to focus more on the pet food and snacking brands.

“The divestiture reflects our strategy to further focus our portfolio and develop a stronger presence in pet food, coffee, and snacking,” said Smucker CEO Mark Smucker.

Pillsbury, licensed from General Mills (GIS) and popularised by the Doughboy mascot, has been a household name across the country for more than half a century. The main product categories under the label are the ready-to-spread frosting, flour and dry baking mixes. The assets being divested include the company’s manufacturing plant in Toledo, Ohio.

The company announced the sale of its baking division to Brynwood Partners, a Connecticut-based private equity firm

Brynwood stands to benefit from Smucker’s strong presence in key markets, especially the Midwest, and its popular brands. In addition to Pillsbury, the deal includes brands like Jim Dandy, Hungry Jack, White Lily and Martha White.

According to Smucker, the transaction will be dilutive to its full-year earnings in the range of $0.25-$0.30 per share, excluding potential benefits from the use of the proceeds. In fiscal 2019, the impact on earnings is expected to be offset by a one-time gain from the transaction.

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Some of the major deals the food industry has witnessed this year include Nestle’s $3-billion sale of its candy business to Nutella-maker Ferrero. In June, Pinnacle Foods (PF) was acquired by ConAgra Brands (CAG) for about $11 billion. Of late, several popular food brands changed hands as companies continue to get rid of non-profitable business amidst the fast-changing customer tastes.

Smucker shares lost more than 10% since the beginning of the year. The stock gained slightly in the pre-market trading Tuesday, but was down 2.5% during the early hours of regular trading session.

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