Can Kraft Heinz Turn Itself Around With New CFO?

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Kraft Heinz Co. (NASDAQ: KHC) shares made a slight gain on Monday after the firm announced that it would be bringing back its former chief financial officer to help turn the company around.

Paulo Basilio will be reprising this CFO role starting on September 1. David Knopf, the current CFO will return to 3G Capital, the private equity firm that partnered with Berkshire Hathaway to engineer the 2015 merger that created Kraft Heinz.

CEO Miguel Patricio has a ways to go to turn around the company, shares of which are still hurting from a $15.4 billion writedown on the value of its brands earlier this year.

According to Bloomberg, internal probes have revealed accounting issues that led the company to restate several years of earnings, and it has received a subpoena. Just on Friday, S&P Global Ratings said it could downgrade Kraft Heinz to a junk credit rating by mid-2021 if it fails to reduce its debt levels.

A quick look at the balance sheet reveals that Kraft Heinz has $30.77 billion in long-term debt, while only holding $1.13 billion in cash and cash equivalents.

John Baumgartner, a Wells Fargo analyst, noted:

We do not view the CFO transition as surprising given the erosion of investors’ confidence, multiple impairment charges, and a tedious accounting investigation. Now is a good time for a reset.

Excluding Monday’s move, Kraft Heinz had underperformed the broad markets, with the stock down about 41% year to date. In the past 52 weeks, the stock was down closer to 57%.

Shares of Kraft Heinz traded up about 1% to $25.60 midday Monday, in a 52-week range of $24.89 to $59.91. The consensus price target is $29.26.

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