In the filing, Jana explained the reasoning behind its move: "Shares are undervalued and represent an attractive investment opportunity. Jana believes that the Issuer has significantly underperformed in shareholder value creation."
The investment firm cited ConAgra's 2013 acquisition of food manufacturer Ralcorp, which "has been followed by disappointing performance for shareholders."
ConAgra released a statement on Thursday, in response to Jana: "ConAgra Foods' Board of directors and management team are committed to acting in the best interests of all shareholders, and we welcome shareholder engagement."
Meanwhile, the analysts at Credit Suisse raised their price target on the stock to $42 from $34 and maintained its neutral rating. "We think ConAgra's board will open a dialogue and listen carefully to Jana's recommendations, assuming they aren't too far-fetched."
The analysts also said one possible recommendation Jana may make is for the company to sell its $4 billion private label division to TreeHouse. "This would relieve ConAgra of the heavy burden and distraction that turning the business around would entail and it would only be modestly dilutive."
Shares soared over 19% since the start of the year and the stock has a market capitalization of almost $17 billion.
TheStreet Ratings team rates CONAGRA FOODS INC as a Hold with a ratings score of C. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:
"We rate CONAGRA FOODS INC (CAG) a HOLD. The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed ? some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks. Among the primary strengths of the company is its solid stock price performance. At the same time, however, we also find weaknesses including deteriorating net income, generally higher debt management risk and disappointing return on equity."
You can view the full analysis from the report here: CAG Ratings Report