Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (NASDAQ:GMCR.DL) has a new CEO, and Wall Street's liking the new brew.
Shares of the company behind the Keurig brewing system popped higher this morning after Green Mountain announced that Coca-Cola's (NYSE:KO) Brian Kelley will be its new helmsman. Kelley starts in two weeks, and it's a pretty bold catch. He was set to head up Coca-Cola's North American refreshment business -- watching over a division with a whopping 68,000 employees -- come January.
Current CEO Larry Blanford had announced plans to retire earlier this year. He has been Green Mountain's head since 2007.
Blanford was instrumental in turning the small Keurig platform into a consumer juggernaut. He was able to get java sippers to warm up to the single-cup system that cranks out premium coffee, tea, and other warm beverages. In a deal that was the equivalent of Richard Nixon going to China, Blanford was able to get the mighty Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) to become a K-Cup partner in early 2011.
However, Blanford and his team have also come under fire over the past year. The historically conservative company fell short in its forecasting. Green Mountain failed to effectively respond to accusations last year raised by hedge fund guru David Einhorn. The company has also been unable to convince investors that there's life at Green Mountain after the K-Cup-related patent expirations in mid-September.
New blood was necessary, and Green Mountain couldn't have aimed any better. Green Mountain has made dramatic inroads over the years in terms of retail distribution, but now it has a seasoned vet of a company that's a master of shelf space and brand building.
After a year filled with too much bumbling about, Green Mountain has done the right thing.