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Godiva Chocolatier On Sale Block

Owner Campbell Soup puts Belgian chocolate unit up for sale to boost image as a purveyor of healthy foods.

MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. (AP) โ€“ Campbell Soup Co. is putting Godiva up for sale, saying the decadent Belgian chocolate does not fit with the company's focus on healthy and hearty foods.
 
The Camden-based company announced Thursday that it has hired Centerview Partners LLC to advise it on what to do with Godiva Chocolatier, which the company has owned for more than 40 years, but says has never fit squarely into any of its main business units.
 
Analyst Mitch Pinheiro, who follows the company for Janney Montgomery Scott, said the company would need to get around $900 million (euro652 million) for Godiva to avoid diluting earnings.
 
Pinheiro said Campbell has resisted selling Godiva in the past partly because there was no place to reinvest the money that would equal profits generated by the chocolate company.
 
He said that has changed. The company could put money toward its planned entry into the soup business in mainland China and Russia and into expanding manufacturing capacity for its increasingly popular V8 juicesโ€”and do it without taking on additional debt.
 
''I think the fact that the company's putting Godiva up for sale signals that Campbell Soup has strong growth opportunities in its core portfolio,'' Pinheiro said.
 
Godiva's annual sales have been around $500 million (euro362.48 million). In the fiscal quarter, that ended April 29, the company reported that the chocolate company's sales had big growth in Asia and smaller sales growth in North America.
 
Campbell has been trying to boost its image as a purveyor of healthy foods. The company has reduced the sodium in many of its soups and other products and has been ramping up marketing and distribution of its V8 vegetable juice.
 
The company has even rolled out a whole-grain versions of its Goldfish crackers.
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