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Stock Up While You Can - Campbell's Is Reportedly In Big Financial Trouble

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Campbell's soup has been around for nearly 200 years and that means almost all of us have fond memories of it. Whether it was coming in from a cold day and having some steaming tomato soup, or being home sick and having a bowl of chicken noodle soup to make us feel better.

Campbell's soup is basically an American institution, but it's starting to look like that soup might be getting poured down the drain soon.

The company just settled a vicious fight between stakeholders that brought a lot of uncomfortable financial facts to light.

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First off, Americans just aren't buying soup like the used to. Most consumers have moved away from highly processed foods and want more natural options. It's hard to make natural soups that also have the kind of shelf-life that Campbell's soups do, so the company hasn't adjusted.

With declining sales Campbell starting buying up companies to try to diversify; that might not have been such a good idea. Currently Campbell has over $9 billion in debt and it doesn't look like that will change any time soon.

That's an astronomical number, so obviously Campbell owners and stakeholders are concerned, but the Dorrance family, who own 40% of the shares, don't seem to want to change the business.

They are descendants of John T Dorrance, the chemist who developed the condensed soup recipe at the turn of the 1900s. They are worth billions of dollars and may not feel the squeeze like many others.

Hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb runs Third Point, a hedge fun that owns about 7% of Campbell's stocks. He's been campaigning to make sweeping changes to the brand from recipes to logos to ditching the iconic red and white cans.

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So far the family has refused, but Loeb didn't go down without a fight. He launched a lawsuit against the company for mismanagement and, in an open letter, accused them of "waste, ill-conceived strategy and inept execution."

The company fired back that Third Point's ideas were "unoriginal and uninformed."

Third Point wanted to restructure the board of directors, and on Monday the two parties came to an agreement. Two of five suggested directors from Third Point will be hired to the board, and the hedge fund will have a say in the selection of the next CEO.

It made for big business news, but it could be a hint at larger changes to come. If those in power decide that Campbell's iconic soups aren't making money any more they could ditch them entirely. So the next time you have a bowl of tomato soup, it might only be in a dream.

I've been writing for Shared for 6 years. Along with my cat Lydia, I search for interesting things to share with you!