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May 3, 2022, 10:09 a.m. EDT

U.S. Foods defends KKR investment, Smart Foodservice and Food Group acquisition in activist response letter

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By Tonya Garcia

USFD

U.S. Foods Holding Corp. /zigman2/quotes/202988961/composite USFD +2.58% released a shareholder letter on Tuesday defending the company's $500 million investment from KKR in 2020 and its acquisition of Smart Foodservice and Food Group. The letter is in response to activist investors Sachem Head Capital Management LP, which owns about 8.7% of outstanding U.S. Foods common stock, and has pressed for changes to the company's board. U.S. Foods is scheduled to announce first-quarter earnings on May 12 and host its annual general meeting on May 18. "We recognize that we have not fully closed the margin gap to Sysco and acknowledge that the Company's pre-pandemic margin progress was not as rapid as initially expected," U.S. Foods' letter says. "Our progress was slowed by discrete operational issues, turnover in our supply chain leadership and an increasingly challenging labor environment heading into 2019." Still, the company says it has made "meaningful progress" on margins, is looking ahead to near- and long-term benefits from the acquisitions of Smart Foodservice and Food Group, and it highlighted the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had on the foodservice industry, which drove the decision to accept KKR's investment. "While U.S. Foods had raised ample funds to finance the Smart Foodservice acquisition, as the environment rapidly deteriorated, the Board considered a number of scenarios - including some that thankfully did not come to pass - and explored a wide range of financing options to ensure we would have the liquidity needed to weather the storm," the company's letter said. U.S. Foods stock has gained 9.6% for the year to date. See also: Kohl’s, Guess and other consumer companies are facing off with activist investors. One expert says it’s a signal of optimism

/zigman2/quotes/202988961/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 38.13
+0.96 +2.58%
Volume: 1.45M
Jan. 31, 2023 4:00p
P/E Ratio
44.44
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$8.36 billion
Rev. per Employee
$1.19M
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