OMAHA, Neb. -- ConAgra Foods Inc. plans to divest its seafood and domestic and imported cheese businesses in a move designed to improve long-term operating performance.



This follows the company's February announcement that it would divest most of its refrigerated meats operations(Armour meats and Butterball turkey businesses). It has already announced definitive agreements for the divestiture of its Louis Kemp seafood and Cook's Ham businesses. Aggregate annual revenue of the meat, seafood and cheese businesses to be divested is approximately $2.8 billion.



ConAgra expected earnings per share of $1.10-$1.15 in fiscal 2007 and expected earnings would not return to current levels until 2009. Today the company declared a quarterly dividend of 18 cents per share, 9.25 cents per share lower than the company's most recent quarterly dividend.



The company said it will put $75 million more a year into marketing spending in combination with the reallocation and disciplined application of current marketing dollars, to result in major increases for key consumer brands.



Future earnings also would be boosted through plant rationalization (closing 10 to 12), supply chain improvements, the application of divestiture proceeds and reductions in the company's administrative costs, including significant costs currently absorbed by businesses to be divested.



"It is essential that we increase our investments behind our highest potential brands, simplify our portfolio of businesses and build a high quality earnings trajectory for ConAgra Foods," said Gary Rodkin, president and CEO. "The planned divestitures are the catalyst for our ability to attack costs, streamline our operations and return quickly to recent earnings levels, but with a significantly stronger foundation for future performance."

ConAgra Foods Inc. is one of North America's largest packaged food companies, serving grocery retailers, restaurants and other foodservice establishments. ConAgra Foods consumer brands include: Banquet, Chef Boyardee, Egg Beaters, Healthy Choice, Hebrew National, Hunt's, Marie Callender's, Orville Redenbacher's, Reddi-wip and PAM.



SOURCE: ConAgra Foods via Business Wire.