OAK BROOK, ILL. — Shares of TreeHouse Foods surged nearly 23% on Feb. 10 after activist investor Jana Partners issued a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission urging the company to explore a strategic review, including a potential sale.
New York-based Jana, which holds an approximately 7.5% stake in TreeHouse Foods, said it has increased its holdings in TreeHouse because “they believe the shares are undervalued and represent an attractive investment opportunity with (TreeHouse) nearly three years into a comprehensive turnaround.”
“Jana has had, and intends to continue to have, constructive discussions with (TreeHouse’s) board of directors and management regarding avenues to resolve (TreeHouse’s) undervaluation and total stockholder return, including evaluating a sale of (TreeHouse), operations, capital allocation, corporate governance and compensation practices,” Jana noted in the Feb. 10 SEC filing.
TreeHouse Foods said it has held multiple discussions with Jana in the spirit of maintaining constructive dialogue.
“During those conversations, Jana expressed strong support for the actions TreeHouse has taken to drive growth and profitability and enhance stockholder value,” TreeHouse Foods said. “In particular, Jana has highlighted our strong position as a leader in private label, our progress in driving improved operating performance and cash flow, and the value creation opportunity that our acquisition of Riviana represents.”
Additionally, Jana has nominated Meredith Adler, John Paul Gainor Jr. and Charles Myers as potential directors for TreeHouse’s board.
TreeHouse Foods said its Board Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee will review Jana’s nominees in accordance with its normal process.
This is not the first time that Jana has pushed for consolidation in the food and beverage category. In 2018, Jana called for the sale of Pinnacle Foods, Inc. Pinnacle was ultimately acquired by Conagra Brands, Inc. later in 2018. And in 2017 Jana pushed Whole Foods Market to consider strategic options. Whole Foods was acquired by Amazon a few months later.