What a difference a month can make.

In January, officials at Parmalat USA, the American subsidiary of the scandal-ridden Italian food and beverage giant, said its business was not for sale. Only one month later, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and was out shopping its assets to potential buyers. The Wallington, N.J.-based dairy company was cagey about who might be interested, saying only several potential buyers had signed confidentiality agreements and letters of intent.

It's doubtful the company will be sold whole, since the parts are more valuable than the sum. Yet, with the parent company's finances in disarray, it's difficult to assign a value. While money has been disappearing off financial statements faster than you can turn milk into cheese, Parmalat USA has lucrative additions for someone's stable. Court filings list assets of $414 million and liabilities of $316.4 million; its largest unsecured creditor is Comerica (NYSE:CMA), with a $10 million loan outstanding.

Parmalat has two primary lines of business: milk and cookies. Mmmmm. While it sounds like a can't-lose combination, continuing revelations of financial shenanigans by owner Calisto Tanzi made suppliers and vendors nervous. As a result, they demanded cash on delivery or pre-payment, as a condition for continued business. With the parent company $18 billion in debt, there were no more loans being shipped across the Atlantic.

Parmalat subsidiaries Farmland Dairies and Milk Products of Alabama reportedly lost $12.5 million on sales of $577.5 million last year. In contrast, its Sunnydale Farms division remains among the country's largest fluid milk-producing plants. Sunnydale Farms would be attractive to a company like Dean Foods (NYSE:DF), the leading U.S. producer of fluid milk and dairy products under brand names like Borden, Country Fresh, and Meadow Gold. Under a growth-by-acquisition strategy, Dean Foods is now a $9 billion dairy behemoth.

Kraft Foods (NYSE:KFT) might consider its Archway bakery, which Parmalat acquired three years ago for $250 million. During a fire sale, though, it would probably go for far less than the $531 million Citigroup (NYSE:C) valued it at. Archway is the third-largest cookie maker behind Kraft's own Nabisco and Kellogg's (NYSE:K) Keebler Elves, and is the distributor of kid-favorite cookies like Mother's Original Circus Animal Cookies.

Other possible suitors might eventually include Nestle (OTC: NSRGY) and Group Danone (NYSE:DA), particularly for Parmalat Finanziaria's European assets, though, they have taken themselves out of the running for the time being. Parmalat's long-life milk might be around longer than its brand name, but its assets retain value far beyond its suspect balance sheets.

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Fool contributor Rich Duprey likes to eat Oreo cookies with a cold glass of milk and does not own stock in any of the companies mentioned.