OAK BROOK, ILL. — Atlas Holdings L.L.C., Greenwich, Conn., has reached an agreement to acquire the private label Snacks business of Oak Brook-based TreeHouse Foods, Inc. for $90 million. Atlas Holdings is a private investment firm that has 19 portfolio companies in a diverse range of industries, including aluminum processing, automotive, building material and others. The investment firm’s current portfolio does not include any other food manufacturers.
TreeHouse Foods’ Snacks unit employs 800 and has three manufacturing plants in Robersonville, N.C.; El Paso, Texas; and Dothan, Ala. TreeHouse Foods projects the Snacks business will generate $670 million in sales in 2019.
“This Snacks business will be a welcome addition to the Atlas family of manufacturing and distribution companies,” said Michael Sher, a partner with Atlas Holdings. “Customers are consistently choosing private label brands, and this business is a premier manufacturer with unique growth potential. We’re excited to partner with this team to deliver the finest healthy, private label snacks in the industry.”
The sale is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close during the third quarter of this year.
“The sale of the Snacks division is a key step in optimizing TreeHouse’s overall product portfolio,” said Steven T. Oakland, president and chief executive officer of TreeHouse Foods. “It is the culmination of TreeHouse’s strategic review of its Snacks business. This transaction allows the Snacks division to unlock its potential and serve its customers even better under Atlas’ ownership.”
TreeHouse Foods announced this past December that its Snacks business was under strategic review. As recently as this past May, management said the company had a “snacks issue.”
“Snacks has lost meaningful volume beyond simply the large customer that we called out last year,” said Matthew J. Foulston, executive vice-president and chief financial officer, during a May 2 conference call with securities analysts to discuss first-quarter results. “Clearly, profitability of the business is deteriorating.”
TreeHouse Foods acquired the Snacks business in 2014 from Flagstone Foods, St. Paul, Minn., for $860 million. Flagstone reported sales of $697 million during 2013. The company is a manufacturer of snack nuts, trail mixes and dried fruit.
At the time of the acquisition, TreeHouse described Flagstone as “ideally situated at the intersection of health and wellness, snacking and the perimeter of the store.”
In a July 8 research report, Robert Moskow, an analyst with Credit Suisse, called TreeHouse’s announcement that it will sell the Snacks business “a positive step in its effort to reduce the complexity of its portfolio and improve its operational effectiveness.”
“While the management team clearly did not get the price it expected when it put the business up for strategic review last year, we are glad to see the company exit it entirely rather than hold out hope for a turnaround or enter a joint venture,” Mr. Moskow said. “The snack nuts business kept losing customers, and it operated at a very thin margin due to its commoditized nature. It is time to cut bait.”
He said Credit Suisse expects the transaction will boost its earnings-per-share outlook for TreeHouse by 38c on a pro forma basis.
“At the risk of reopening the wound, the $90 million sale price for this $670 million business compares to the $875 million it paid Flagstone snack nuts just five years ago,” Mr. Moskow said. “However, it will remove EBIT and EBITDA losses of $28 million and $6 million respectively, from the 2019 base on a pro forma basis and allow management to focus on product lines where it has more competitive advantages.”