Smithfield CEO Sells 100K Shares

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Shares of Smithfield Foods Inc. fell Thursday after the nation's largest hog producer and pork processor said its CEO sold 100,000 shares this week "to meet personal financial obligations," according to the company. Shares of the Smithfield, Va.-based company fell $1.

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Shares of Smithfield Foods Inc. fell Thursday after the nation's largest hog producer and pork processor said its CEO sold 100,000 shares this week "to meet personal financial obligations," according to the company.

Shares of the Smithfield, Va.-based company fell $1.08, or 7.8 percent, to $12.72 in afternoon trading Thursday.

The company said in a Securities and Exchange filing on Wednesday that CEO Larry Pope sold the shares — about a third of his common stock holdings at the company — at an average price of $13.50 a share. Pope still owns 222,000 shares of common stock following the sale, according to the filing.

According to an Associated Press analysis of regulatory filings, Pope received compensation valued at $1.8 million for fiscal 2009, 49 percent less than the year before. Pope has been president and CEO of Smithfield since September 2006.

Smithfield reiterated in another statement later Thursday that Pope made the sale for personal financial reasons, adding that executives did not receive bonuses last year and that Pope is optimistic about the company.

"Mr. Pope does not intend to sell any additional shares at this time," Smithfield said.

In addition to his remaining shares, Pope has stock options to purchase 670,000 additional shares.

The company, which is weathering a downturn in the meat industry, has been raising money as well. Late last month, the company priced its public offering of nearly 21.7 million shares at $13.85 per share.

The company has said it plans to use net proceeds for working capital and general corporate purposes.

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