Nooyi again tops Fortune's list of powerful women

by Eric Schroeder
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NEW YORK — For the second consecutive year, a food and beverage company sports the most powerful woman in business, according to Fortune magazine. The magazine has been ranking women based on the size, importance, and health of their business in the global economy; career momentum; and social and cultural influence, for the past 10 years.

Indra Nooyi, chairman and chief executive officer of PepsiCo, Inc., was ranked No. 1 on the "50 Most Powerful Women in Business" list compiled by Fortune. Prior to being ranked No. 1 in 2007 and 2006, Ms. Nooyi ranked No. 11 in 2005.

"The 2001 Quaker Foods acquisition, in which Nooyi played a key role, is working out well, and Pepsi International, a priority for the company and a particular interest for the Indian-born Nooyi, is coming on strong too; its revenues rose 14%, to $13 billion, and operating profits rose 21%, to $1.9 billion," Fortune said.

In addition to Ms. Nooyi, three other prominent food and beverage industry executives ranked in the Top 10.

Irene Rosenfeld, chairman and c.e.o. of Kraft Foods Inc. came in at No. 5, the same position as in 2006.

"Kraft had a bumpy 2006," Fortune said. "Revenues were flat ($34.4 billion), and earnings per share declined in the fourth quarter. But earnings were up for the year as a whole, and in March, Kraft regained control of its destiny when it was spun off from tobacco giant Altria Group. Rosenfeld announced a $5 billion stock repurchase program in February and a $7.2 billion acquisition of Danone’s global biscuit business less than five months later. One key goal: increasing Kraft’s presence in emerging markets."

Patricia A. Woertz, chairman, c.e.o. and president of Archer Daniels Midland Co., dropped two spots to No. 6.

"With corn prices rising, the "dot-corn" ethanol phenomenon is losing some of its glow, and the stock has fallen sharply," Fortune said of ADM. "Still, strong global demand positions ADM’s commodity-based businesses well for the long haul."

Brenda Barnes, chairman and c.e.o. of Sara Lee Corp., dropped four spots to No. 10.

"Is the turnaround finally working? Maybe — just maybe," Fortune said of Ms. Barnes efforts at Sara Lee. "Sales rose 7.1%, to $12.3 billion, and operating income 32%, to $556 million, in fiscal 2007."

Dawn Hudson, president and c.e.o. of Pepsi-Cola North America, ranked No. 41 in 2007, moving up one spot from No. 42 in 2006. Meanwhile, Jan Fields, executive vice-president and chief operating officer of McDonald’s USA, joined the list for the first time, at No. 48.

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