Campbell Soup Co. confirms choice for new CEO

AP News
Posted: Jun 23, 2011 5:33 PM
Campbell Soup Co. confirms choice for new CEO

The Campbell Soup Co. on Thursday formally named Denise Morrison as its next president and CEO.

The 57-year-old Campbell executive will become the first woman to run the world's largest soup maker.

The Camden-based company's announcement that she will take over Aug.1 came as a surprise to no one.

Campbell said she was next in line last year when Douglas Conant announced he would step down this year after more than a decade leading the company.

At the time, she was named executive vice president and chief operating officer to prepare for the top job. She joined Campbell in 2003 after working at Procter and Gamble, PepsiCo, Nestle USA, Kraft and Nabisco,

She said in an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday that the company has both strong points and areas that need improvement, but said she did not want to talk about specifics until she announced a strategic plan at an event for analysts set July 12.

"We are going to write the next chapter of growth," she said.

One major challenge could be in the company's most famous product. After soup sales revived earlier in Conant's time as president, the company saw them fall off in the last few years.

Campbell also makes Pepperidge Farms bread, crackers and cookies, Prego pasta sauce and other foods.

Also Thursday, the company announced it would repurchase $1 billion worth of its stock after completing a $1.2 billion stock buyback program that began three years ago.

It announced a quarterly dividend of 29 cents per share.

Campbell shares fell 87 cents, or 2.6 percent, to close Thursday at $33.11. In aftermarket trading after the company announced Morrison's appointment, they rose 44 cents to $33.55, staying near the low end of their 52-week range from $32.66 to $37.59.