Investors pigged out on Smithfield Foods (NYSE:SFD) Monday, after hearing that Smithfield had finally won its bid for bankrupt Farmland Industries' pork business, Farmland Foods. The deal had been bandied about for a while and puts to rest an 18-month wait and competing bids from Cargill.

Smithfield will purchase the pork business for $367.4 million in cash and the assumption of liabilities including $90 million in pension obligations. According to the company, the deal will be a boon to earnings right away. Farmland is expected to add $1.6 billion to the $8 billion in annual sales Smithfield already brings in, and that ain't scrapple.

As was pointed out here back in July, Smithfield has a great deal of debt that's more than just a passing concern. In late September, Standard & Poor's had Smithfield on its CreditWatch with negative implications, citing approximately $1.9 billion in outstanding debt and implying that it was still considering cutting Smithfield's ratings.

However, S&P saw the then-prospective Farmland Foods purchase as a good way for Smithfield to whittle down its debt, depending on the price tag and Smithfield's ability to finance the acquisition.

According to the National Pork Producers Council, consumers put about $38 billion of pork on their forks every year. Smithfield will now represent 27% of the market for the "other white meat," which is a good thing. Antitrust watchdogs would have blocked the deal had that figure crept to 30%.

While Smithfield is #1 when it comes to pork, it hopes to beef up its stockhouse standing and compete with the likes of rivals Cargill and Tyson Foods (NYSE:TSN). If Smithfield can trim down its debt, it looks like it might solidify its place in hog heaven.

Alyce Lomax welcomes your feedback at