Last month, International Multifoods (NYSE:IMC) significantly reduced its outlook for the next several years, citing slowing sales, increased competition, and trouble in key product categories. Today, the Minneapolis purveyor of food mixes and scratch ingredients revealed that COO and President Dan Swander is out, turning over full operational responsibility to Chairman and CEO Gary Costley.

Swander, a two-year company veteran, was sent packing with kind words -- fair enough, as he's credited with the sale of International Multifoods' foodservice distribution business, a sensible move. Yet, there's reason to believe Costley has it covered from here: He's held important positions at Kellogg (NYSE:K), and if he needs help, he's contracted Deloitte to run an organizational assessment.

We also got a look at what the shakeup at International Multifoods -- responsible for the Hungry Jack product line, among others, and which licenses Pillsbury from General Mills (NYSE:GIS) -- will cost. The earnings outlook is unchanged before special costs, but management expects full-year profits of $1.30-$1.40 per share to be impacted by some $0.38 per share for items including severance and the Deloitte contract.

That's a pretty significant chunk of change, and there's sure to be more down the road. Even so, it's encouraging to see the company -- already focused on streamlining operations and exiting marginal businesses -- taking further steps to improve its long-term competitive position and fire up growth.

Should the company maintain profitability and deliver the free cash flow it's predicted, International Multifoods should have time to commit to whatever strategy Costley chooses. That the shares, sitting near 52-week lows, ticked up slightly in morning trading suggests that investors also believe that the company's first steps are in the right direction.

Dave Marino-Nachison can be reached at