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Green Mountain Names Coca-Cola’s Brian Kelley as CEO

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc., the maker of Keurig K-Cups and brewers, named Coca-Cola Co.’s Brian Kelley as chief executive officer to succeed Lawrence J. Blanford, who is retiring.

Blanford, who said in February he planned to retire, helped the board identify a successor. Kelley, 51, has worked five years at Coca-Cola, where he led the integration of the acquisition of Coca-Cola Enterprises assets to create the refreshments unit, Green Mountain said today in a statement.

Green Mountain, based in Waterbury, Vermont, has been facing increasing competition from private-label capsules made by Kroger Co. and Safeway Inc. that fit into Keurig brewers. It’s also facing pressure from Starbucks Corp., which recently began selling its own single-serve coffee and latte maker, called the Verismo.

“Kelley not only brings experience but also credibility to the Green Mountain story, which has been on a rocky road over the past year,” William Chappell, an analyst at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey in Atlanta, wrote in a note today. Chappell upgraded the stock from neutral to buy on the announcement.

The shares rose 2 percent to $27.87 at the close in New York. Green Mountain has declined 38 percent this year.

Kelley will be Green Mountain’s third chief executive. Blanford has been CEO since assuming the role from the company’s founder, Bob Stiller, in 2007.

Kelley, who will also become Green Mountain’s president Dec. 3, joined Coca-Cola in 2007 and was slated to become president of refreshments in January. He’s also led Sirva Inc., a provider of relocation services, and worked at Ford Motor Co. and Procter & Gamble Co.

Green Mountain is scheduled to report fourth-quarter earnings on Nov. 27. Analysts project net income will fall about 4.3 percent from a year earlier, which would be the first decline in seven quarters, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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