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General Mills (GIS) is on our Hedgeye Consumer Staples Best Ideas list as a LONG.

 

The widely rumored sale of Green Giant by General Mills continues to swirl. The latest is that B&G Foods (BGS) is taking a serious look into the asset. Frankly, we don’t care who buys it as long as it is a half way decent price. Our LONG bull call on GIS is partially dependent on them shedding non-core assets and acquiring high growth businesses. We believe this could be the first of multiple divestitures that GIS executes throughout the next couple of years. In our GIS Black Book we highlighted management identified non-core assets that could be up next.

GIS | Time to Close this Deal - CHART 1

The selling price of Green Giant is expected to be in the range of $600mm-$800mm pre-tax. We are expecting a hefty tax bill given the likely large step up in asset valuation that will need to occur.  This will still give them the ability to reinvest further into growing the top line or buy a small snacking business. We have talked a lot about the potential snacking assets out there right now and we think this would be the best use of cash.

Talking with many industry professionals it seems as though sales are starting to stabilize. More specifically, cereal, something that everyone seems to think is all GIS has, (in reality its only 20-25% of net sales in any given year) will start to see growth return. The cereal category has bottomed and we feel that there will be a year-over-year increase in the category as GIS and the competition have invested heavily to revive the category.

At the end of the day, rumors are exactly that, rumors, but this sale seems to be coming to fruition, baring complete disconnect on price. To reiterate, this is the first deal of many that GIS has to execute in order to transform their portfolio for growth into the future.

We continue to view GIS as one of the best large cap companies in the staples space. They just announced that they will be releasing 1Q16 results on September 22nd before the market opens. We expect to see continued sequential improvement as they have cleaned up ingredient decks and streamlined the business.

Please call or e-mail with any questions.

Howard Penney

Managing Director

Shayne Laidlaw

Analyst