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Tickers in this Article: KFT, UL, CAG, HNZ
Shares of ConAgra Foods Inc. (CAG), one of the leading processed and packaged food makers in North America, inched up 2 cents after the food company announced expansion worth roughly $100 million in Russellville, Arkansas. The company intends to expand its plant in the Russellville area to accommodate making of Bertolli and P.F. Chang's frozen meals. The expansion is likely to create at least 80 new jobs. ConAgra's presence in this part of world can be dated back to 1965 with roughly 1,350 employees working for it currently.

In August 2012, ConAgra Foods completed the acquisition of Home Menu frozen meals brands--Bertolli® and P.F. Chang's® from Unilever plc (UL) for a total cash consideration of $267 million. The acquisition of frozen meals businesses includes a license for use of the Bertolli brand name in favor of ConAgra. Also, the acquisition entails transfer of Unilever's existing license for use of Home Menu brand name of P.F. Chang to the food maker.
Such strategic acquisitions, which comprehensively embrace the principal businesses along with the use of licenses, add value to ConAgra; helping the company to further expand its portfolio of Marie Callender's®, Banquet®, Healthy Choice®, Slim Jimand Kid Cuisine®.

ConAgra Foods Inc. with its wide array of brands in almost 97% of America's households, serves grocery retailers, restaurants and other foodservice establishments. Thus, the company's strategic acquisitions fit in well with the existing capabilities of ConAgra Foods as it expands its business portfolio and presence across the food market. Moreover, its promotional campaigns, strong sales force, dedicated customer-serving teams, and category leadership continue to add depth and dynamism to its existing product lines.

The current Zacks Consensus Estimate for the fiscal second quarter of 2013 (ending November 2012) is 53 cents, representing a year-over-year increase of 13.4%. Estimates for fiscal 2013 and 2014 are $2.06 and $2.15, reflecting annual growth of 12.1% and 4.4%, respectively.

We have a Neutral recommendation on ConAgra over the long term. Also, ConAgra has a Zacks #2 Rank, implying a short-term (1-3 months) Buy rating. The company's prime competitors are HJ Heinz Co. (HNZ) and Kraft Foods Inc. (KFT).

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