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Refocusing, Campbell Sells Godiva for $850 million

BY Tara Smith

CAMDEN, N.J. The Campbell Soup Co. agreed on Thursday to sell its Godiva Chocolatier unit to Yildiz Holding of Turkey, the largest consumer goods company in the Turkish food industry, for $850 million. Godiva will become part of the Ulker Group, which is owned by Yildiz.

The sale would help Campbell, which reported a 7.2 percent drop in fiscal first-quarter net income in November as a result of higher expenses, in part at Godiva. In addition, the company decided that the Belgian chocolate maker with $500 million in annual sales may not fit its increasing focus on marketing its products as part of a healthy lifestyle.

“The sale price reflects the strength of the Godiva business,” said Douglas Conant, Campbell’s chief executive. “Godiva is one of the world’s leading premium chocolate businesses and is an excellent strategic fit within Ulker’s portfolio.”

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General Mills posts increased Q2 net sales posts increased Q2 net sales

BY Tara Smith

MINNEAPOLIS General Mills on Wednesday reported results for the second quarter of fiscal 2008. Net sales for the 13 weeks ended Nov. 25, 2007, rose 7 percent to $3.70 billion. Segment operating profits essentially matched last year’s second quarter at $716 million, including higher input costs, a 10 percent increase in consumer marketing investment and $20 million pre-tax expense associated with a product recall of frozen pepperoni pizza. Net earnings totaled $391 million including restructuring and associated costs of $20 million pre-tax, $13 million after tax. Diluted earnings per share totaled $1.14, up 6 percent from $1.08 a year ago.

Through the first six months of 2008, General Mills’ net sales increased 7 percent to $6.78 billion. Second-quarter net sales for General Mills’ U.S. retail operations grew 3 percent to $2.52 billion. Second-quarter net sales for General Mills’ consolidated international businesses grew 22 percent to $666 million.

The company’s snacks division net sales grew 12 percent, fueled by strong sales for Nature Valley grain snacks, Fiber One bars and fruit snacks. The Yoplait division net sales increased 11 percent and Big G cereals grew 3 percent, following 5 percent growth in the first quarter of 2008. Net sales for baking products also increased 3 percent while the meals division net sales grew 1 percent, led by Progresso ready-to-serve soups. Pillsbury USA division sales declined 2 percent, including the impact of the frozen pizza recall. Net sales for the company’s Small Planet Foods organic business rose 14 percent.

Looking ahead to the second half of fiscal 2008, Chief Executive Officer Ken Powell said, “We expect our good sales momentum to continue, with contributions from additional new product introductions, selected pricing actions and ongoing investment in brand-building activities. For the year in total, we now estimate that our net sales will grow at a mid-single digit rate, exceeding our long-term goal of low single-digit sales growth.”

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Doritos narrows its search for its ‘cheesy’ love song

BY Tara Smith

DALLAS Doritos has narrowed its cheesy love song search for its “Crash the Super Bowl” promotion to a field of 10 unsigned musicians.

The 10 semi-finalists’ bios and music are listed on a microsite, crashthesuperbowl.com, where consumers are invited this week to cast their votes as to which should run during the Super Bowl. Online balloting is open from now until Dec. 31 to vote for one of the top 10 and voting on the three remaining finalists selected form the initial vote will resume Jan. 7 through Jan. 31, when a winner will be announced. The winner receives a record deal with Interscope Geffen A&M Records, in addition to a 60-second music montage that will air during the Super Bowl, as well as during some NFL playoff games.

The PepsiCo-owned brand asked for unknown artists to create music videos. Doritos launched a similar campaign last year that allowed consumers to create their own spots.

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