Campbell Soup Company stocks sinks after CEO quits suddenly

VIDEO: REUTERS

New York (AFP) - The Campbell Soup Company, purveyor of iconic brands once immortalised by pop artist Andy Warhol, fell sharply on Wall Street Friday after the surprise departure of its chief executive officer.

Shares in the company nosedived 12.4 per cent to close at US$34.37 (S$46.13) after the company announced a strategic re-think and the immediate retirement of CEO Denise Morrison amid a three-year sales slump.

Campbell's share price has fallen by nearly half since a peak in mid-2016.

Morrison's exit after seven years at the helm of the troubled company thins even further the ranks of women leaders of companies on the S&P 500.

Chief Financial Officer Anthony DiSilvestro said in a statement that the firm had made progress in stabilising sales and expanding its portfolio further into snacks.

"However, we are not satisfied with our financial results," he said, citing "external challenges" and other factors, in presenting the company's latest quarterly results.

The company plans to review all aspects of its strategy and portfolio, according to DiSilvestro.

Morrison is to be replaced temporarily by Keith McLoughlin, a board member.

On an investor call, McLoughlin said "everything is on the table. There is no sacred cow." The company has also pointed to President Donald Trump's tariffs on steel and aluminum as a source of woes, driving up the cost of its iconic cans.

In recent years, the company had attempted to diversify, in particular by acquiring the snacks maker Snyder's-Lance and by developing product lines deemed to be healthier.

But it still recorded a US$393 million loss in the most recent quarter on revenues of US$2.13 billion.

According to Catalyst, a non-profit which advocates for gender equality in corporate leadership, there are only 23 women left, or 4.6 per cent, in the top roles at S&P 500 companies.