Kellogg CEO To Retire

Cereal maker said Monday that its CEO, David Mackay, will retire on Jan. 1 and be replaced by Chief Operating Officer John A. Bryant.

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (AP) -- Kellogg Co. said Monday that its CEO, David Mackay, will retire on Jan. 1 and be replaced by Chief Operating Officer John A. Bryant.

Mackay, 55, has worked for the food and cereal maker for 20 years and served as its CEO for four years.

Kellogg said Mackay became eligible to retire this summer and he alerted the board of his decision to retire on Friday, saying he had made a commitment to spend more time with his family. Mackay, who also serves as president and a director, will stay on at the company to help with the transition through March 31.

Bryant, 45, joined Kellogg in 1998 and has held several positions, including chief financial officer. He became chief operating officer in 2008.

Kellogg, which makes foods such as Frosted Flakes, Pop-Tarts and Cheez-Its, said the decision to retire was entirely Mackay's but some analysts speculated that the recent struggles for the food company might have played a roll.

The company, the largest U.S. cereal maker, recently hit a tough period as cereal sales started to slow, competition increased and it coped with the impact of the largest food recall in its history. Kellogg issued a voluntary recall in June of 28 million boxes of Apple Jacks, Corn Pops, Froot Loops and Honey Smacks cereal after complaints that an unusual smell and flavor was making people sick. The company blamed the problem on excess chemicals in box liners it got from a supplier.

Kellogg's executives said in its last earnings report that 2010 was a difficult and disappointing year. In the most recent quarter, its net income fell 6 percent, while revenue declined 4 percent to $3.16 billion.

Morningstar analyst Erin Swanson said Monday that the change at the top could have been prompted by struggles Kellogg is currently facing and said management seems to be unable to get a handle on these issues. She anticipated that under Bryant, Kellogg will place an increased emphasis on product innovation to drive revenue growth but doesn't expect those investments to yield measurable improvements overnight.

Kellogg also reaffirmed its revenue and earnings guidance for 2010 and 2011 on Monday. The company previously said it hoped to regain its momentum in 2011 after dealing with the issues that took it off course in 2010. The company expects earnings per share will rise 4 percent to 5 percent, excluding the impact of foreign currency. In 2011, Kellogg predicts that its earnings per share and its revenue will rise by percentages in the low single digits, on the same basis.

Shares of Kellogg, based in Battle Creek, Mich., rose 4 cents to $49.53 in midmorning trading.
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