Following Kraft's purchase of British chocolatier Cadbury on January 19, Heinz's stock rose on speculation of a possible takeover by Nestle, the world's largest food conglomerate. Although neither company's officials commented, the speculation drove the company's stock to a new 52-week high. Hershey's has also been mentioned as a possible target for Nestle but it appears that the Hershey Trust, the company's main shareholder, is not willing to relinquish its controlling interest.
Heinz reiterated its FY2009 guidance of EPS growth in the 5-8% range.
UBS Analyst David Palmer downgraded the company from "outperform" to "neutral," citing a stronger dollar and increased pension costs.
food sector as it sees less opportunities for earnings growth in the near future. Although commodities prices are falling, most food producers hedged in these costs at record highs, so they will not benefit from these lower prices until the hedging contracts expire.
Heinz reported a 12% increase in Q1 profits as international sales rose at least 20% in every regions while earnings were up in the double digits.
Heinz reported a 7.2% rise in fiscal fourth-quarter profit, overcoming sharply higher costs for grains and other commodities with higher prices and strength in its international business.
After discovering that its beef was apart of the major beef recall, Heinz recalled 40,000 cases of the Boston Market Lasagna.