Dole Food Company’s (DOLE, NYSE, 52week range 8.02 – 14.58) shares jumped almost 15 percent on Friday, July 20, on news that the company is in talks to sell or spin-off the company’s packaged food business.
David DeLorenzo, Dole’s President and CEO, said in a statement, “We are continuing to look at a wide variety of potential alternatives as part of the strategic review of our businesses. This review continues to be a company priority in our efforts to enhance shareholder value.”
DeLorenzo indicated that the review is very open-ended and the company is considering many options, such as a full or partial separation of one or more of its businesses through a spin-off or other capital markets transactions (IPO). There is also the possibility of a joint venture or an outright sale.
The company’s Asian packaged food business is at the forefront with a well-known brand and logistics and presence in several large Asian countries, which makes it a good candidate for a standalone through an IPO, according to analyst Jonathan Feeny at Janney Capital Markets. The consensus is that the Asian operations would command a higher valuation on its own.
DeLorenzo confirmed that Dole is “talking to different companies that either contacted us or our advisors had contacted. We generated a lot of interest coming out of Asia.” It has hired Deutsche Bank Securities and Wells Fargo Securities LLC to assist in the process and expect something to be concluded by the end of the year 2012.
Dole also released good second quarter 2012 earnings, helping to boost its stock price. Earnings came in at $0.74 per share on revenues of $1.72 billion. Analysts’ estimates were for $0.72 per share on revenues of $1.78 billion. Beating on the bottom-line but a little short on the top-line, consistent to what we have been seeing so far in second quarter earnings releases from other public companies.
Trading volume on Friday was extremely active with 3.3 million shares changing hands, compared to the average trading volume over the last three months of approximately 675,000.
The anticipated changes could have effects around the world for the company founded in Hawaii back in 1851. In Hawaii, Dole still owns 26,000 acres of property, with 2,700 acres in pineapple and 195 acres in either coffee or cacao, all on the island of Oahu.
Dole shares have been weak lately, trading near it 52-week lows, so it looks as if the double-digit percentage pop might just be the beginning of DeLorenzo’s goal of enhancing shareholder value, especially considering that the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 120 point that same day.