A new two-block-long plaza lined with new housing, restaurants, offices and green space is the centerpiece of a proposed $500 million redevelopment that would dramatically change the Conagra Brands downtown Omaha campus.
Conagra Brands executives told investors Tuesday that they’re optimistic. The moves the company made to restructure its business over the past two and a half years have set the company up for growth, they said.
“Not only will the chamber have plenty of space to grow, this move will accelerate the resurgence of the Conagra property and make the existing chamber site available for development,” said Dana Bradford, chairman of the chamber’s building committee.
Illinois-based TreeHouse Foods, with offices in Omaha, on Thursday announced a plan to restructure its company by 2020. In phase one, it’s closing packaged-food factories in Minnesota and Indiana and cutting back production at a plant in Alabama. A total of 375 jobs will be cut in those places.
The focus for Conagra, in the early months of its 2017 fiscal year, is on managing its brand portfolio to be more “premium and modern,” as the company puts it.
With sales eroding, Conagra Brands needs to make an aggressive move to improve its portfolio, so the possibility Conagra will buy rival Pinnacle Foods makes sense, a Credit Suisse analyst said in a note to clients Wednesday. The note followed a report Conagra might make such a move.
The sale is a continuation of Conagra’s reformation under Conagra Chief Executive Connolly, hired in 2015 just before a New York hedge fund took a large stake in the company.
An office complex formerly leased by ConAgra Foods — this one on a northwest Omaha campus near 72nd Street and Interstate 680 — has been sold and is on its way to a different chapter.
Packaged food companies now are in a double bind: Launching big-time brands in a market crowded with niche products is a steeper climb, while many established brands — including Healthy Choice — are watching sales erode. Partly to blame are millennial shoppers, many of whom reject their parents’ old name-brand staples as they spread their food dollars around at specialty stores and online.
Analysts quizzed executives in a conference call Thursday on just how fast that turnaround might come, while executives defended their decisions and said the stock will remain a good investment.
The company also said its measures of profitability improved as planned.
The Idaho company saw profits jump in the second quarter as it cranked out more processed potatoes and fetched a better price at the same time.
It's a case of Conagra has been here before after New York hedge fund Third Point's announcement of its stake in the company.
A hedge fund known for activist investing reports having a stake in the former Omaha company
Executives told analysts in a presentation at the company’s new Chicago headquarters that ConAgra is emerging as a lean, agile competitor, launching modern products in niches with growth potential, while expecting continued growth in profit margins and share value.
RBC Capital Markets analyst David Palmer and other analysts have previously pointed to that possibility, but he said the timing now looks right with ConAgra Foods just a few weeks away from spinning off its Lamb Weston frozen potato business.
With $3 billion in annual sales — a figure growing at a rate of about 6 percent a year — Lamb Weston is the world’s second-biggest supplier of frozen potatoes, a $13 billion market expected to grow to $15 billion by 2020, executives said.
ConAgra Foods’ spinoff of its frozen potato business into a stand-alone company could shape up to be one of the year’s most lucrative spinoff deals, one analyst told The World-Herald. But others are skeptical about whether the two companies will fare much better on their own than they have together, and about how quickly shareholders could see a gain.
Any ConAgra shareholders as of the record date of Nov. 1 will receive Lamb Weston shares as a dividend. They’ll get one share of the new company for every three shares of ConAgra Foods stock owned. Shares will be distributed Nov. 9.
Yes, business is hot despite a chill in the grocery aisles.
Stock analysts expect ConAgra Foods to post another big plunge in grocery food sales when the company reports its first-quarter earnings Thursday. Still, the company’s share price should climb over time, stock watchers said, given ConAgra’s focus on expanding profit margins and its plan to spin off its commercial foods unit. A move to buy new brands also could help breathe new life into a sometimes-stale portfolio.
ConAgra Foods wanted to move its headquarters to Chicago so badly that the company took a pass on an estimated $28.5 million in incentives Nebraska would have offered to keep it in Omaha. Instead the company accepted Illinois tax credits that are expected to amount to less than half of what Nebraska would have offered.
ConAgra Foods’ plan to break into two companies is on track for this fall, and the company will hold a pair of October events to give investor…
The New York hedge fund started buying shares in the firm, formerly headquartered in Omaha, in the spring of 2015, amassing a 7.2 percent stake in the company through a combination of shares and options to buy shares, at prices ranging from about $36 a share to nearly $39.
When it comes to rivals and others ConAgra itself identifies as peers, shares of the maker of Fleischmann’s margarine and Andy Capp’s Hot Fries didn’t distinguish itself as much, even as the board rewarded the top five executives with $28 million in total pay.
Chief Executive Sean Connolly and the company’s other top three executive officers saw large increases in stock awards and, in a shift for ConAgra, large cash incentive payments as the company looked to reward the executives for what it said was above-target performance.
ConAgra said the sales generated about $488 million in combined net proceeds.
As Omaha’s downtown is smarting from the loss or shrinkage of a few bigger and more traditional corporate tenants, real estate and business leaders say it is the more edgy entrepreneurial, branding and technology-focused players that lately are filling smaller spaces and driving office activity in the city’s urban core.
P.J. Morgan Real Estate has launched a marketing campaign to lease the two office structures, which radiate from the widely recognized promenade of flags off 10th Street.
For ConAgra shareholders, it is still an unknown how much real gold is in the golden-brown french fries produced by the company’s Lamb Weston …
The company that unpacked its boxes in renovated space at Chicago’s Merchandise Mart this past week under CEO Sean Connolly’s leadership is focused on a future that doesn’t look much like ConAgra’s past in Omaha, where it made its corporate home for more than 90 years.
ConAgra Foods is almost certainly the best known of the grain and milling companies that put Omaha on the food biz map, and although the headquarters is now gone after almost 100 years, it has been a good ride for investors.
Chief Executive Sean Connolly said the quarter closed out a year of “tremendous accomplishment and progress.”
ConAgra shares have an average “overweight” rating among 16 analysts polled by FactSet, meaning analysts expect the stock to have a better return than competitors in the packaged goods industry.
The prints, which ConAgra said appraised several years ago for $1.6 million, will find a new home at the Joslyn Art Museum.
The company will need less space in Omaha once it opens its Chicago headquarters later this month. It will consolidate its Omaha operations into three office buildings on the southern part of its campus, spokesman Chris Kircher told The World-Herald.
Employees from Omaha’s homegrown food manufacturer will make the move starting June 23 and should be in place in their new offices in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart building by Independence Day, a company spokesman told The World-Herald.
Jana typically sticks with an investment for about two and a half to three years, say people who keep track of activist hedge funds. With the fund recently renewing its agreement to cooperate with ConAgra’s board, it looks like Jana’s managers still see more juice to be squeezed out of ConAgra’s stock.
The New York hedge fund disclosed a stake in ConAgra in June 2015 and has pushed the company to make changes that boost the value of shares. ConAgra has since sold its money-losing private label foods business and has announced that it will spin off its frozen potato unit and sell a smaller spice business. Those changes leave the company with essentially its core consumer foods business, and analysts believe that further divestitures of food brands could be on the horizon.
30 students seized the moment and spent the spring semester making the ConAgra campus, Heartland of America Park and surrounding area — about 120 acres in all — their senior studio project.
ConAgra said operating profit grew by double digits in both its business segments, even as sales dropped in its consumer business — grocery-store food — for the third straight quarter. That division is ConAgra’s main focus as it reorganizes and moves its headquarters to Chicago later this year.
Some are skeptical that ConAgra will turn around the consumer business, which is facing pressure from cost-conscious investors and from supermarket shoppers looking for fare they perceive as more modern and healthful — or who are skipping the supermarket altogether in favor of a restaurant or mail-order meal kit.
In what the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce said is an unusual arrangement, dozens of companies will have access to about 170 information technology employees who have been notified their jobs are being eliminated as ConAgra moves its headquarters to Chicago.
Slimmed-down operations at the company’s Council Bluffs plant are just a small slice of the changes in store for the Omaha company’s thousands of manufacturing workers around the U.S.
The western Iowa plant, one of ConAgra’s largest, has about 850 employees, a figure that fluctuates throughout the year based on seasonal changes in demand. Workers there make frozen meals including pot pies and microwave dinners.
As of Monday, approximately 9,500 employees transitioned from ConAgra to TreeHouse Foods.
The sales employees, most of whom work outside of Omaha, learned of the layoffs last week. The layoffs are part of the ConAgra job cuts announced in October.
The new name, branding experts say, signals to investors, employees and retailers how the company will change its focus. Just don’t expect shoppers to take note.
A new year will bring a new name for ConAgra Foods, and that has some observers weighing how long the Conagra Brands name could be around.
ConAgra Foods said Tuesday it’s making more money from its key consumer brands business even as it sells less food and spends more on advertising.
ConAgra Foods on Tuesday will report second-quarter sales and profits — its first financial report since announcing in October that it would relocate its headquarters out of Omaha.
The six highest-paid executives at ConAgra Foods collected about $63 million in aggregate compensation during the crucial three years when they were making many of the decisions that led to what employees face today: the payroll slashed, the headquarters moving to Chicago, the company splitting into two.
The recent purchases mark the first major public step related to the future of the sprawling office complex that at least one broker called Omaha’s single most important piece of real estate.
ConAgra Foods Chief Executive Sean Connolly rallied employees Thursday in Omaha to get behind his vision for the company, telling them in stark terms that the radical changes he has been making are necessary for the company’s survival.
Unlike a host of other changes ConAgra has made, spinning off its commercial frozen potato business into a separate company won’t have a big impact on the workforce in Omaha.
Lamb Weston accounted for about $3 billion of about $16 billion in revenue at ConAgra last year; the company said Wednesday that the capital structure of the new company has yet to be announced.
The transaction is expected to be complete in fall 2016, with shareholders owning shares of both companies.
ConAgra is facing the same tidal wave of changes in consumer shopping habits that has other food companies adrift. And it’s surfing without many of the big-name brands that competitors can cling to, industry watchers said.
In the memo, addressed to the finance, information technology and enterprise business systems team, the company said managers would inform the employees of their fates Wednesday and Thursday. The memo said the company wasn’t finished with its review of positions, especially those to be outsourced, and more cuts could come in the next 30 to 90 days.
ConAgra said Oct. 1 it would eliminate 1,000 jobs in Omaha and move 300 more jobs to Chicago, along with its corporate headquarters.
After offloading the division it purchased for $6.8 billion, ConAgra can focus on its coming move to Chicago and refreshing some of its tired brands.
TreeHouse Foods Chief Executive Sam Reed said he had put a team together about a year ago to study ConAgra's private brands division, long before it was for sale but with the knowledge that ConAgra was struggling.
ConAgra Foods’ move to Chicago might do more than slash the company’s payroll in Omaha. It could put a dent in ConAgra’s charitable giving here, too.
The move of ConAgra’s headquarters to Chicago will be the city’s biggest home office loss since Enron. This is the story of why Omaha’s business recruiters couldn’t stop it from happening.
Omaha is a growing community that demonstrates its forward-looking attitude and dynamism in many ways. The latest demonstration of that positive spirit is the way so many companies and organizations have stepped forward to help ConAgra employees find work here in the face of an impending loss of some 1,300 jobs.
Dozens of companies are working together to make sure the city doesn’t lose those who lose their jobs
People in the business of site selection say big companies moving their headquarters, or prominent divisions, is something of a trend. In on the current wave: ConAgra, Kraft Heinz, Mercedes Benz USA, Hertz Corporation, Cadillac, Applebee’s and Toyota Motor Sales USA.
The company, which announced last week that it will move its headquarters to Chicago, has said it won’t need the whole area it currently occupies downtown. But ConAgra hasn’t said which buildings it might vacate.
This is an opportunity for companies in the region to access a labor pool of talented, experienced, skilled employees who are right here, writes David Brown, CEO of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce.
The news that ConAgra Foods will move to Chicago has left some Omahans wondering: How hip and cosmopolitan do you have to be to sell TV dinners and cooking spray, anyway?
Many are abuzz about the similarities between the piece of history ConAgra wanted razed to make way for its Omaha campus and the historic property where it’s now headed: downtown Chicago's massive Merchandise Mart.
ConAgra Foods says slashing its payroll and moving its offices to Chicago’s hip Merchandise Mart will save the company $300 million a year. What’s it cost to save $300 million? Try $345 million. At least upfront.
Twelve companies met with the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce on Friday in an effort to connect with soon-to-be displaced ConAgra Foods workers.
ConAgra’s decision to yank its global headquarters flag from Omaha should free up some premium riverfront property — including, probably, two grassy lots the Fortune 500 company at one time had eyed for future development.
Despite all the it’s-not-you-it’s-me talk the Fortune 500 corporation gave Thursday, it’s hard not to take the rejection personally.
“This move stings. ConAgra’s decision to move headquarters to Chicago is frustrating, as we all know the lower costs in Nebraska make it a great place to do business. I’m puzzled by this move,” said Rep. Adrian Smith.
The company is keeping about 1,200 jobs in Omaha, but the move cuts the roster of Fortune 500 headquarters in the city to four. ConAgra has called Omaha home since 1922 and recently employed about 2,500 workers in the area.
Sean Connolly told workers the decision to cut jobs and move company headquarters to Chicago came after “agonizing debate.” Specifics on which jobs are affected will come within a month, he said.
Stothert said she understands that the company needs to make big changes but wishes that didn't include a move to Chicago. "My question would be, why couldn't you do it here as well as anywhere else?"
Omaha real estate agents are bracing for a flood of high-end homes to hit the market as ConAgra Foods moves some of its executives to Chicago.
Today, we mourn the departure of a great corporate citizen’s headquarters. Tomorrow, we roll up our sleeves and get to work on the next chapter for metropolitan Omaha.
Bad for Omaha, but perhaps good for shareholders. That was the consensus among some investment professionals Thursday.
“I didn’t hear what I wanted to hear,” Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert said. “What I really wanted to hear is nothing is going to change in Omaha. I think in reality that’s not what we’re going to hear, but I don’t know the extent of it.”
Some ConAgra Foods employees are circulating their resumes in anticipation of layoffs. Others who expect to relocate with the company are considering listing their Omaha homes for sale.
Gov. Pete Ricketts today said he has spoken with ConAgra Foods Chief Executive Sean Connolly in recent days about a state aid package that would assist the Omaha-based company as it ponders job cuts and moving some operations to Chicago.
Omaha’s five Fortune 500 companies give Nebraska more than other states with similar populations. And if a ConAgra departure brings that number down to four, “It doesn’t necessarily create a black eye for Omaha," one expert said.
ConAgra agreed in 2012 to be the university's anchor private partner in the public-private research facility. Its research space would be positioned near the relocated food sciences program, which began offering classes on Innovation Campus this fall.
Update: ConAgra has announced plans to move its headquarters to Chicago.
Some say ConAgra's move presents an opportunity to redesign the riverfront area and extend an Old Market-type area toward the Missouri River.
Even after Omaha business leaders raised money to buy and raze Jobbers Canyon, the debate over the decision has simmered for decades. It is surfacing anew after ConAgra announced it would move its headquarters to Chicago.
You don’t have to know how zero-based budgeting works to know that when corporate executives start talking about it, layoffs often follow.
The Omaha-based company has been in the news a lot recently. Here's a Q&A to get you all caught up on what's happening.
If ConAgra does plan to leave Omaha, Mayor Jean Stothert hasn't been told.
Omaha could lose jobs and the ConAgra Foods headquarters as the company shakes up its business to boost profits and its stock price, Chief Executive Sean Connolly indicated Tuesday.
No one is confirming it, but Omaha may be on the brink of losing one of its Fortune 500 companies.
Just posing the question of whether ConAgra Foods could move its headquarters from Omaha is enough to infuriate some people who were here in the 1980s, when the state passed generous tax and economic incentives to get the company to stay.
Chronology of events leading to the announcement that ConAgra Inc. will build its headquarters and food laboratory on Omaha's riverfront.
Analysts point to the Omaha connection, but others say the Kraft Heinz merger will take time to digest
Communities where ConAgra operates plants express concerns about how a sale of the company's struggling store-brand food business could affect them.
Under the agreement announced Wednesday, Jana will support the re-election of current board members at ConAgra’s annual meeting and will keep its ownership interest under 10 percent.
About 60 ConAgra Foods employees in Omaha work in the firm’s private-brand division that has been put up for sale. The division most likely will attract an out-of-town buyer with an already up-and-running back-office staff.
If the sale proceeds are used to pay down debt, the prospects of a higher credit rating appear likely, Standard & Poor's said.
The carving out of the so-called private-label business raises the specter of other sell-offs and breakups. And if investors get antsy, they could push for changes that would affect the company’s employment rolls in Omaha, or even endanger the continued presence of its headquarters.
Sean Connolly's announcement comes after a hedge fund earlier this month disclosed a large stake in ConAgra, signaling its disappointment in the Omaha company’s performance and a desire to see changes. Connolly said certain consumer brands also could be on the chopping block if their growth potential is weak or if they’re deemed to not generate enough profits.
ConAgra shares rose about 21 percent from June 2014 through June of this year, while the S&P 500 index of U.S. stocks rose only 8.2 percent. But to activist investors such as Jana Partners, what matters is how a stock does stacked against shares of companies in similar industries.
A look at Jana’s playbook for stakes that it has taken in other companies could give a sense of what the $11 billion hedge fund will do when it comes to the agribusiness that employs 2,500 in its hometown.
Below is the text of a press release from ConAgra announcing the company's headquarters move to Chicago.
A sampling of World-Herald reader reactions to ConAgra's announcement that it will lay off 1,000 people in Omaha and move the company's corpor…