Natural Foods Merchandiser

Business Roundup: ConAgra acquires Alexia Food

Packaged-food giant ConAgra Foods Inc. has acquired Alexia Foods, Inc., a privately held natural food company. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Alexia, founded in 2002 by chef Alex Dzieduszycki, generates about $35 million in annual sales of natural and organic appetizers, potatoes and breads at such stores as Whole Foods, Costco, Wal-Mart, Super Target, Kroger, Safeway and Publix.

Alexia will continue operations from its Long Island City, N.Y., offices under the direction of Dzieduszycki and his staff, who will become employees of ConAgra.

"Alexia's premium brands position ConAgra Foods to gain presence in the increasingly important natural and organic foods segment. said Gary Rodkin, chief executive of ConAgra, in a statement. "In turn, Alexia will benefit from ConAgra Foods' marketing and operating infrastructure."

Dzieduszycki said, "This agreement is a milestone for the Alexia brand in being able to continue our commitment to deliver premium, natural and organic products to consumers while drawing on the resources ConAgra brings as a leader in the food industry."

Hansen rumored to be takeover target
Rumors continue to swirl that Hansen Natural Corp., maker of natural sodas, juices and energy drinks including Monster, with its growing market share against Red Bull, is a takeover target.

On July 23, Stifel Nicolaus & Co. analyst Mark Astrachan raised his price target on Hansen to $52 per share from $46. He expects Hansen to report higher earnings and revenue in the second quarter on the strength of its new products, price increases and possible international expansion.

Astrachan said Hansen has "good relationships" with a number of companies that might be possible suitors. He said Hansen has distribution agreements with Anheuser Busch, which is making a bigger push into the nonalcoholic market; PepsiCo in Canada; and Cadbury Schweppes, which has received bids for its U.S. beverage business from private equity firms. Though Hansen has no relationship with it, another candidate might be The Coca Cola Company, which is making a push into the growing market for noncarbonated drinks as sales of traditional sodas continue to shrink.

But Astrachan doesn't see an imminent acquisition. "I'd be a little surprised if it happens now," he said.

With Hansen's $4 billion market cap, and a premium probable on the bid, "it's going to be a big deal," Astrachan said. "Nobody's in a hurry."

A spokeswoman for Hansen said the company does not comment on takeover rumors.

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