The activist investor who tried to force the sale of Campbell Soup Co. in 2018 has further trimmed his firm’s holdings in the Camden company that owns Pepperidge Farm bread, Prego pasta sauces, Snyder’s of Hanover pretzels, and other brands.
Daniel S. Loeb’s Third Point LLC said in a regulatory filing Tuesday that it had trimmed its holdings in Campbell to 12.5 million shares, or 4.44% of the company. That’s down from 21 million shares (6.98%) in the fall of 2018, when Loeb was waging a proxy fight that met stiff resistance from Campbell’s board, which includes two grandchildren and a great-grandchild of the inventor of condensed soup, John T. Dorrance.
Loeb’s filing with the stock market regulator, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, said his firm’s stake “has appreciated significantly since the original investment was made in 2018.” The filing also said Loeb was confident in Campbell’s “ability to continue to create value for shareholders under the leadership of its chief executive officer.”
In the last 52 weeks, Campbell’s shares have climbed 35%. Chief executive Mark Clouse took over on Jan. 22 of last year. Company shares closed at $47.35 Wednesday, down 1.74%.
Third Point purchased its shares from early June to early October of 2018 for prices ranging from $34.83 to $43.11 per share. The sales since early July through Monday have been for prices from $41.51 to $49.42.
Separately, Campbell said Tuesday that Carlos Abrams-Rivera, the president of its snacks division, was resigning effective Feb. 1 to take an unspecified job at another company. Until a successor is found, Clouse will lead those operations, which are expected to be the main source of growth for Campbell. Campbell had promoted Abrams-Rivera from president of Pepperidge Farm to president of Campbell Snacks less than a year ago.
Also, Campbell initiated an offer to retire $1 billion of its long-term debt. Campbell has been using proceeds from last year’s sales of Bolthouse Farms, Arnott’s, and other businesses that raised $3 billion to reduce its large debt burden taken on to pay for acquisitions. As of late October, Campbell had trimmed its debt by about $1.5 billion, to $8.3 billion, from a year earlier.