Hormel Foods Corp. elevated James Snee to president and chief operating officer, positioning him as the likely successor to Chief Executive Jeffrey Ettinger at the maker of Spam canned pork and Skippy peanut butter.
Mr. Snee, who recently has run Hormel’s international division and served as a group vice president, will take over as president from Mr. Ettinger on Oct. 26. Mr. Ettinger, 57 years old, has held that post since 2004 and been CEO for about 10 years. He also is chairman.
Mr. Snee, 48, joined Hormel in 1989, the same year as Mr. Ettinger, and has held management positions in several departments, including refrigerated foods, food service and purchasing. Mr. Snee, who also will join the company’s board, will be the 10th president in the Austin, Minn., company’s nearly 125-year history.
Hormel’s international segment has boosted sales and earnings by double-digit percentages under Mr. Snee and his “vast experience in both our core businesses and our emerging-growth markets” make him well-suited for his new post, Mr. Ettinger said Wednesday.
A Hormel spokesman declined to comment on the company’s succession plans.
Hormel, long a major pork processor, has diversified its food operations through a series of acquisitions under Mr. Ettinger, reducing its exposure to volatile markets for commodities such as hogs. The company in recent years bought Skippy peanut butter, Muscle Milk maker CytoSport Holdings and organic and natural meat processor Applegate Farms. It also has rolled out more packaged-meat products, which command heftier profit margins than shrink-wrapped fresh meats. Revenue in its last fiscal year rose 6.5% to $9.3 billion.
Hormel shares have quadrupled during Mr. Ettinger’s reign as CEO, far outpacing major stock indexes. The stock was up 0.7% at $66.43 in midmorning trading.
Hormel in August posted stronger-than-expected third-quarter earnings and raised its full-year outlook. Improved profits in meat products such as pepperoni and deli meat helped offset a sharp drop in earnings from its Jennie-O Turkey store unit, where production has suffered from a severe U.S. bird-flu outbreak earlier this year.
By David Kesmodel
Source: Wall Street Journal
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