Bob Evans Farms Inc. said Monday that it has hired J.P. Morgan to evaluate “opportunities for value creation” amid growing pressure on the company to sell its packaged foods division.
“The board continues to evaluate all options to create shareholder value and is working with J.P. Morgan to review and evaluate potential opportunities for value creation,” CEO Saed Mohseni said in a statement as part of the company’s fiscal second quarter earnings release.
He said there is “no formal timeline” for the completion of the review and said there is “no certainty that the review will result in a particular outcome.”
Bob Evans has faced investor pressure for years to spin off BEF Foods, which makes packaged side dishes and pork products to be sold at grocery stores. That investor pressure has intensified as the company’s 521-unit family-dining chain has struggled as BEF Foods has thrived.
In the second quarter ended Oct. 28, for instance, BEF Foods sales increased 2 percent and its operating income increased by 33 percent.
Bob Evans Restaurants, meanwhile, reported a 1.8 percent decline in same-store sales for the quarter while total net sales for the division declined by 4.7 percent. Operating income for that division increased slightly.
Yet Mohseni said that the chain’s performance improved, noting that same-store sales fell 1.4 percent in October, compared with 2 percent declines in August and September. And he said the number of restaurants generating positive same-store sales increased 65 percent from the first quarter.