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  • By Lynda Kiernan-Stone, Global AgInvesting Media

WhiteWave Well Positioned to be Next Target for Acquisition

Organic and natural food company, WhiteWave Foods spun off from Dean Foods in May 2013, but because of the tax implications of selling a company within two years of a spin off, WhiteWave shareholders were awaiting May 2015. When a sale did not materialize, shareholders became pessimistic about the possibility. Now, it seems, their downbeat view may have been premature.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Bernstein analyst, Alexia Howard, upgraded the stock of WhiteWave, which sells Silk brand soy and almond milks, Horizon organic dairy products and Earthbound Farm packaged salads, to ‘outperform’ last week to a price target of $56 per share, or more than 20% over its closing price on Thursday.

Since the company reported earnings in early August, the company’s stock has pulled back by 10%, but, it remains up by 30% for the year, and has more than doubled in value since its listing in 2012. Although the company’s climbing stock price could turn away some bidders, Ms. Howard notes that White Wave’s highly sought-after product mix and double digit sales growth figures could still attract a number of interested parties.

Companies considered to be top possible contenders for WhiteWave include Campbell Soup Co. and Kellogg Co. – both of which have had difficulty growing revenues. General Mills could also be a possible bidder, as Ms. Howard notes that WhiteWave would add 17% to General Mills’ sales and would integrate its Yoplait yogurts with Horizon Organic milk, strengthening its position in the dairy sector.

It is also being considered that Coca-Cola Co. could buy a stake in the company, following the course it took in its recent deal acquiring a 30% stake in the organic, coldpressed juice company, Suja Life for $90 million.

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