Campbell selling its fresh-food, international businesses

Campbell Soup’s bet on fresh food didn’t pay off.

The company announced Thursday that it is selling Campbell Fresh, which includes Bolthouse Farms juices, carrots and salad dressings, Garden Fresh dips and tortilla chips and Campbell’s own refrigerated soups.

Campbell is also selling its international business, which includes Tim Tam cookie maker Arnott’s and Kelsen Group.

The company tapped Goldman Sachs and Centerview Partners to help it with the sale.

The decisions are the result of a full operational review the company began in May, in the wake of poor sales and a reportedly rocky integration of snack company Snyder’s-Lance, which Campbell completed in March.

The company’s longtime CEO Denise Morrison also abruptly retired in May.

Current CEO Keith McLoughlin said in a statement on Thursday that the board considered a full sale of the company among other options but ultimately decided that divesting of the two businesses was best.

“The board remains open and committed to evaluating all strategic options to enhance value in the future,” he added.

McLoughlin said that the sales will allow Campbell to focus on its core U.S. businesses, including canned and microwavable soups, V8 and Pepperidge Farm snacks. They should help bring down the company’s debt.

The company also reported earnings on Thursday.

Sales in the three months ending in July grew 33 percent from the same period last year, but that growth was entirely owed to Campbell’s acquisitions of Snyder’s-Lance and Pacific Foods, which make soups and plant-based beverages. Campbell bought Pacific last year. Without those new businesses, Campbell’s sales would have fallen 3 percent.

“Fiscal 2018 was a challenging year for Campbell,” said McLoughlin. “These results and our outlook for fiscal 2019 reinforce the need for the significant actions we announced this morning.”

Campbell’s stock slumped nearly 17 percent this year and fell another 6 percent in premarket trading Thursday.