The Earthgrains Company (NYSE: EGR – news) announced today at its annual meeting of shareholders that it is raising its quarterly cash dividend by 20 percent to 6 cents per share.
The Earthgrains Board of Directors declared a quarterly cash dividend payable Aug. 31, 2000, to shareholders of record as of Aug. 11, 2000. The dividend rate increased from 5 cents per share.
“It is a pleasure to be able to reward our shareholders,” Earthgrains Chairman and CEO Barry H. Beracha said at the company’s annual meeting held on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis. “We are looking forward to delivering additional rewards in the future.”
In other matters of business at the meeting, shareholders elected three board members to terms expiring in 2003. Elected were E. Byron Glore Jr., CEO of The Glore Group; Jaime Iglesias, retired chairman of Anheuser-Busch Europe, Inc., and retired chairman and president of Bimbo, S.A.; and William E. Stevens, chairman and CEO of The Wesmark Group. Glore is newly elected to the board. Iglesias and Stevens have been directors since 1996.
Shareholders also approved an amendment to the company’s 1996 Stock Incentive Plan that increases the number of shares authorized by 2.1 million shares. The Stock Incentive Plan is part of the company’s compensation program to attract, retain, motivate and align management with the interests of shareholders.
In a speech to shareholders at the annual meeting, Beracha noted that the company is coming off a record year of performance and the company has set higher goals for itself. Earthgrains, the second-largest packaged bread and bakery products company in the United States, is focused on the integration of its latest acquisition — Metz Baking Company — and will continue to drive core business improvement in the United States and Europe through revenue growth, brand building, cost containment and the use of information technology and focal-point management.
The company is projecting record revenue of more than $2.6 billion in its current fiscal year, which ends March 27, 2001.
“We are on schedule with our plans to integrate Metz. This integration is our top focus, and we are confident in our ability to capture the value we have identified,” Beracha told shareholders. “Given our track record and our growth and improvement model, we believe Earthgrains is an excellent investment.”
Earthgrains, which had sales of $2.039 billion in fiscal 2000, operates fresh-bakery and refrigerated-dough businesses in the United States and Europe.
Earthgrains is the second-largest producer of fresh packaged bread and baked goods in the United States with 64 bakeries and markets products under leading brand names, including Colonial, Rainbo, IronKids, Earth Grains, Grant’s Farm, San Luis Sourdough, Heiner’s, Master, Mother’s, Old Home, and Break Cake.
In Europe, Earthgrains is the market-share leader for fresh packaged sliced bread, buns and snack cakes in Spain and is one of the largest producers of bread and buns in Portugal.
In the refrigerated-dough segment, Earthgrains is the only manufacturer of store-brand canned refrigerated-dough products in the United States and is one of the largest producers of store-brand toaster pastries. In Europe, Earthgrains is the largest refrigerated-dough producer in France and the only producer of canned dough in Europe.
More information about Earthgrains may be found on the company’s corporate Internet web site at www.earthgrains.com,.