Conagra Brands. We’ll find out this year if Sean Connolly really has solved the growth challenge confounding packaged-foods CEOs around the world. Chicago-based Conagra’s CEO won applause early last year when he managed to coax 3 percent growth (yes, the bar is that low) out of a stable of frozen foods brands like Banquet and Healthy Choice. All they needed was updated packaging and healthier ingredients, or so it seemed. But growth slowed after Connolly completed the $10.9 billion acquisition of Pinnacle Foods, maker of Birds Eye frozen vegetables and other grocery staples. If he can jump-start those brands, he’ll have a blank check for more acquisitions. If not, Conagra could be the next packaged-foods takeover target.
ConAgra is considered by many experts as one of the worst stocks of the year.