H J Heinz Co intends to cut 2,700 jobs — or 8% of its workforce — and close 15 plants in 2007. The Pittsburgh PA-based food producer, whose brands include Ore-Ida frozen potatoes and Boston Market and Smart Ones frozen meals, said it might close another five plants in 2008.
For the fourth quarter ended May 3, 2006, the firm's profit plunged 19% to $167.9 million, or 50 cents a share, from $206.5 million, or 59 cents, a year ago. Revenue increased almost 8% to $2.4 billion.
Despite the lower quarterly net earnings, Heinz predicted a 10% gain in earnings per share for fiscal 2007 and said it would raise its dividend 16.7%.
The company's board of directors also approved $1 billion for share repurchases over the next two years. Heinz said it plans to trim $355 million in costs in the next two years.
Heinz has been under pressure from billionaire investor Nelson Peltz to boost shareholder returns.