Hormel Foods Corp. is selling its Farmer John and Saag's brands, along with three farms, in order to free up resources for new and higher growth food products.

The Austin, Minn.-based company announced the sale Monday on the eve of its fourth-quarter earnings report. Smithfield Foods Inc. will pay $145 million in cash for the two meat brands and farm operations in California, Arizona and Wyoming. Pending regulatory approval, the sale is expected to close by the end of the year.

"While the businesses have performed well, they no longer align with our company's growth strategies," said Jim Snee, Hormel's chief executive, in a statement.

Snee, who took over as chief executive following Jeff Ettinger's retirement on Oct. 31, said last week that he will continue to guide the company toward its four growth segments — international, multicultural, on-the-go and healthy. Some recent acquisitions point to these growth categories.

In May, Hormel bought Justin's, an organic nut butter and snack company, for $286 million. The previous May, Hormel purchased natural and organic meat company Applegate Farms for $775 million.

The new CEO told the Star Tribune that he plans to accelerate Hormel's growth platforms.

Farmer John is a processed meat brand from Southern California. It slaughters about 7,400 hogs a day for use in its products. Saag's specializes in sausages and is centralized in northern California. In fiscal year 2016, the two brands composed about $500 million in sales.

After market close Monday, Hormel's board announced a 17 percent increase in the company's annual dividend to shareholders.

The dividend on common stock was raised from 58 cents per share to 68 cents per share for the 51st consecutive increase.