Mondelez Profit Exceeds Estimates as Rosenfeld Reduces Costs

  • Revenue of $6.85 billion beats analysts' projections
  • Snackmaker is under pressure from activist investor Ackman

Mondelez International Inc. posted third-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates as Chief Executive Officer Irene Rosenfeld trims expenses, cushioning the blow of falling sales.

Profit was 42 cents a share, excluding some items, the Deerfield, Illinois-based company said Wednesday in a statement. Analysts estimated 41 cents, on average. And while sales fell 18 percent to $6.85 billion, partly due to the sale of its coffee business, that topped analysts’ $6.81 billion projection.

Rosenfeld been pursuing $3 billion in cost cuts and shifting production overseas to protect the company from a wave of consolidation in the food industry. She’s also trying to manage through the company’s second tangle with an activist investor in the past two years after Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management disclosed a $5.6 billion stake in the snacks giant in August. The maker of Oreos and Wheat Thins previously beat back an activist push from Nelson Peltz by adding the billionaire to its board.

Mondelez Margins

Investors are watching to see if Mondelez can expand its margins, which have trailed its snack-food competitors, said Brian Yarbrough, an analyst at Edward Jones. Mondelez said its adjusted operating income margin grew to 14.1 percent in the quarter, and it reiterated a target of 15 percent to 16 percent for 2016.

"That’s where they’re going to really hold their feet to the fire," said Yarbrough, who has a buy rating on Mondelez stock.

Mondelez fell 0.4 percent to $46.40 at the close in New York. The shares have gained 28 percent this year.

Mondelez also announced management changes on Wednesday. Chief Growth Officer Mark Clouse was named to the newly created position of chief commercial officer. Mondelez said the job, with includes oversight of its five geographic regions, was created to simplify and accelerate day-to-day decision-making and drive profitable growth. Tim Cofer, currently executive vice president and president for Asia Pacific and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, will move into the role of chief growth officer, the company said.

Cofer and Clouse will "work hand in hand to advance our transformation agenda and accelerate growth on both our top and bottom lines," Rosenfeld said in the statement.

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