J.P. Morgan Chase downgraded Campbell Soup shares to underweight on Friday, arguing that the food company will be forced to attract a buyer if the management chooses to pursue a sale.
"Although we agree with Third Point that the best option of Campbell Soup is to sell, we see a sale as an unlikely result. If we make a mistake and a sale takes place, we ask how much of a prize a claimant be willing to pay, "Goldman wrote. "We think the appeal of buying the entire Campbell Soup is limited, we're not sure which potential suitors could take the risk, including Kraft Heinz."
Campbell said in a statement Thursday that his board "remains dedicated to delivering a go-forward strategy that will drive value for all shareholders". He said it looks "waiting to share the details of our plans when the company will report the results for the fourth quarter and 30th August and engage with our shareholders on our strategic plan."
Campbell Soup shares fell 1.3% Friday morning, in retail trade.
The fate of the company probably remains in the hands of its major shareholders, many of whom are direct descendants of John P. Dorrance, the man often credited for the condensed soup.
The board, led by Mary Alice Malone (18 percent participation) and Bennett Dorrance (about 15 percent participation) have not yet indicated whether they would agree to abandon their holdings, although both historically have opposed a sale of the company of their grandfather made famous and owned in full.
However, hopes for a sale were boosted Thursday after Third Point's 13-D filing revealed that George Strawbridge, a third and largest shareholder, agreed to partner with the New York hedge fund office. .
"A constructive thesis that we heard yesterday about CPB is that if Mr. Strawbridge can be" turned upside down ", as it was recently, then maybe even other directors can be," added Goldman of JP Morgan.
– Laurenc Hirsch
of the CNBC
contributed to the drafting of reports.