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) --

Fortune Brands


jumped late in Friday's session as reports surfaced that the Deerfield, Ill.-based consumer products giant was considering a break-up of its diverse businesses, which include brands like Jim Beam bourbon and Kitchen Craft appliances.

The Wall Street Journal

said the company was now considering cooperating with the restructuring plans of activist investor's Bill Ackman's

Pershing Square Capital Management

hedge fund, which disclosed a roughly

11% stake in Fortune Brands in October

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The article, which cited people familiar with the matter, noted it would be difficult for the company to complete any divestitures because of the complexity of the prospective deals, and said Fortune Brands could ultimately decide not to cooperate with Ackman.

The stock closed up 7.8% at $58.60 after spending the majority of the session in negative territory. Volume of 4.3 million compared to the issue's trailing three-month daily average of 1.4 million. Year-to-date, the shares have now risen 26%. Since hitting a 52-week low of $37.05 on July 1, the stock is up 58%, but it's still trading at a fairly reasonable forward price-to-earnings ratio of 17.5X.

Fortune Brands reported its third-quarter results on Oct. 28, posting a profit of $102.6 million, or 66 cents a share, on sales of $1.72 billion. On an adjusted basis, excluding items, the company earned 72 cents a share in the quarter, falling 2 cents short of Wall Street's expectations.


Written by Michael Baron in New York.

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Michael Baron


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