Pinnacle Foods Buying Wish-Bone for $580 Million

Pinnacle Foods is getting its "wish" today.

The branded food products company announced this morning it has signed an agreement to buy the Wish-Bone and Western salad dressing brands from owner Unilever PLC for a combined purchase price of $580 million. With Wish-Bone -- which it says is the nation's No. 1 Italian dressing brand, and No. 3 overall salad dressing brand -- and Western boasting combined annual sales of $190 million, the purchase is valued at 3.05 times sales for Pinnacle.

Unilever is getting a very good deal. Its own shares fetch only 1.7 times sales on the market. Wish-Bone and Western come at a steep premium for Pinnacle, however, whose own shares are valued at only 1.2 times sales on the market.

Mitigating the high purchase price for Pinnacle is the fact that its new brands bring with them approximately $125 million in tax benefits, according to the buyer. When "synergies" with its other brands are factored in, Pinnacle says it expects "EPS accretion" to hit "meaningful levels" in 2014.

Pinnacle Foods Inc., based in Parsippany, N.J., went public in March. Its other products include Vlasic pickles, Duncan Hines frosting and cake mixes, and Birds Eye frozen foods.

Unilever says the deal does not include its facility in Independence, Mo., which will continue to manufacture Wish-Bone and Western brands for Pinnacle Foods under a third-party agreement for a limited time. Pinnacle plans to invest $40 million to $50 million to consolidate production into an existing Pinnacle facility. The deal is expected to close in Q3 or early Q4.

-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.


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