Hormel adds Muscle Milk to its lineup in a $450 million deal

The $450 million deal for CytoSport adds sports nutrition products to the Spam maker’s portfolio.

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Hormel is buying Cytosport Inc., maker of Muscle Milk, for $450 million. Pictures is Greg Pickett, Cytosport's co-founder and chairman, in a 2011 file photo.

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Hormel Foods Corp., the maker of ham and Spam that also owns Skippy peanut butter, plans to bulk up further by buying the California producer of Muscle Milk in a $450 million transaction.

Austin, Minn.-based Hormel, which announced the deal for CytoSport Holdings late Monday, will discuss the acquisition in a conference call with analysts and investors Tuesday.

“Muscle Milk products will serve as a growth catalyst for our specialty foods segment, providing this division with a leading brand in the high-growth sports nutrition category,” Hormel CEO Jeffrey Ettinger said in a statement. “The acquisition of CytoSport expands our offerings of portable, immediate, protein-rich foods, and broadens our appeal with younger consumers. Muscle Milk premium protein products further enhance our balanced business model.”

In an interview Tuesday morning, Ettinger said the deal lets the company diversify while remaining in a segment of the food market that is faring well right now.

“This allows us to diversify but still plays to our protein strength,” Ettinger said. “And the Muscle Milk customer is younger, athletic so there’s some diversification there.”

Hormel Foods traded flat Tuesday morning around $49.40 per share, about 40 cents off its most recent 52-week high.

CytoSport Holdings expects to post annual sales of $370 ­million this year. Based in Benicia, Calif., CytoSport was founded in 1998. The company says Muscle Milk products, distributed at amateur sports festivals and running races, is No. 1 in the ready-to-drink protein beverage category.

Hormel expects this acquisition to add about 5 cents per share to Hormel’s fiscal 2015 earnings, with a neutral impact to fiscal 2014 earnings, including transaction costs.

Analysts expect Hormel to ring up sales of more than $9 billion for this fiscal year, which will close in late October.

The deal is expected to close within 30 days.

Neal St. Anthony • 612-673-7144

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