In the midst of the Halloween season, rumor has it that Kraft
The food and beverages giant is said to be shopping around its Life Savers and Altoids breath mints brands to prospective buyers. Sale of the two units, which combined boast $300 million in annual sales, could bring in more than $1 billion, according to Reuters.
Certainly the move makes some sense. The candy area represents a smaller part of Kraft's overall business, which includes Velveeta cheese, Oreos, Maxwell House coffee, and Oscar Meyer cold cuts. Still, the firm can hardly be accused of neglecting candy, having gone to great lengths over the years to promote the Altoids brand with quirky advertising that has made the mints something of a household name.
One can't help wondering what Kraft is going to do with all its new cash. At the end of its June quarter, the company had just $164 million in cash and equivalents on its balance sheet and nearly $11 billion in long-term debt. Needless to say, some debt reduction may be in order.
Still, the company also needs to get its sales growth up, and proceeds from the candy sale may also go toward finding new ways of bolstering results. As the Motley Fool's Alyce Lomax has noted, the company has already embarked on some new initiatives, including a tie-in with the South Beach diet and improved product labeling. In addition, the company has streamlined manufacturing and scaled back its workforce to operate leaner in the face of rising commodity expenses.
One area where Kraft has room to improve is international sales. In its latest quarter, just 30% of revenue came from outside North America. Of course, the firm has some tough competitors overseas, including Nestle and Unilever
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Fool contributor Brian Gorman is a freelance writer living in Chicago. He does not own shares of any companies mentioned here.