Kraft Heinz delays the announcement of long-term turnaround plan, shares tumble


Kraft and Heinz products

Scott Olson | Getty Images

Kraft Heinz said Thursday it would be pushing back the unveiling of its turnaround plan from March to May.

The announcement came as the company saw its sales decline in the fourth quarter, despite higher prices. Net sales fell 5.1% to $6.54 billion, missing Wall Street’s estimates of $6.61 billion.

Kraft also disclosed impairment charges of $666 million, including writing down the value of its Maxwell House trademark by $213 million. The Oscar Mayer owner had put the coffee brand up for sale last year, people familiar with the matter told CNBC.

The company’s stock, which has market value of $33.7 billion, fell 8% in morning trading on Thursday. Shares have fallen more than 42% over the past year.

“I know many of you were expecting a March date versus a May date for the unveiling of our strategy,” CEO Miguel Patricio told investors on the conference call Thursday. “But with Carlos Abrams-Rivera coming in as our new head of the U.S. zone I wanted to make sure we have his full input as we detail our multiyear plans for the bottom up, before we present it to you.”

Abrams-Rivera joined Kraft in January after serving as the president of Campbell Soup’s snack division. Prior to his hiring, Patricio was serving as interim president of the U.S. zone, in addition to his duties as chief executive.

A year ago, the food giant wrote down the value of its iconic Kraft and Oscar Mayer brands and surprised Wall Street by reporting a quarterly loss. After an executive shakeup, Patricio, as the company’s new chief executive, has been tasked with turning the company around. He told analysts that his focus in 2020 will be to stabilize the business.

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