The plan boils down to three parts. First, the company will expand its divestiture program, selling its seafood, domestic and imported cheese, and refrigerated meats business (the last of which had already been announced). These businesses accounted for about 20% of ConAgra's fiscal 2005 revenue. It seems the company is moving quickly to execute on this plan; it recently announced the sale of its Louis Kemp seafood business to Trident Seafoods for an undisclosed amount.
Step two will involve marketing. Lots of marketing. The company plans to boost spending here by more than $75 million a year. Using data I gathered from Capital IQ, this looks like a decent idea -- ConAgra spends far less on advertising than rivals such as Kraft
Last but not least, the company cut its dividend by roughly one-third. Given management's substantially lowered guidance for 2007, and its warning that operating earnings would be weak through 2009, saving or redeploying that cash seems like a wise move.
I want to have some faith in this restructuring effort, in part because ConAgra is based in my home state and employs a lot of people. Its somewhat-new CEO comes from PepsiCo
What you, my fellow Fools, should do with the stock is not so clear. Buying into turnaround plans isn't always a Foolish thing to do; I'm reminded of that quote that goes something like, "Men plan and God laughs." Of course, when those plans start to work, you can get Unilever-like
If you want to take a chance on this turnaround today, I wish you good luck. For a more stable food investing idea, consider the likes of Kellogg
For more Foolish food for thought:
Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).