With sales of breakfast cereal continually soggy, Kellogg Co. is in late-stage talks with snack maker Diamond Foods about acquiring the $1 billion company, The Post has learned.
If the talks result in a deal, Kellogg , whose cereal lineup includes Frosted Flakes, Froot Loops and Rice Krispies, would further transition toward snack foods.
A price would be more than $1.5 billion, sources said, or $35 to $40 a share.
“Kellogg is somewhere between aggressive and desperate to use mergers to try to evolve its business away from breakfast cereal,” a source close to the situation said, adding that Kellogg has been Diamond’s most aggressive suitor.
Diamond, whose stable of brands includes Kettle potato chips, Emerald nuts and Pop Secret popcorn, put itself on the block earlier this year and last week asked for final bids.
“It is tough to handicap if Kellogg won,” a second source with direct knowledge of the situation said.
The Battle Creek, Mich., outfit may be the only suitor for all of Diamond, sources said, and may have offered less — perhaps much less — than $40 a share.
Diamond closed Thursday at $32.83, up 2.2 percent. Shares are up 16 percent for the year.
The company may only be willing to sell at a significant premium, sources close to the situation said.
In the US, breakfast foods now represent a little more than 20 percent of Kellogg’s net sales — with snacks being a slightly larger category. Kellogg in 2012 bought Pringles from Procter & Gamble.
US cold cereal sales in the four weeks that ended Oct. 4 were flat compared to the same period a year earlier, according to data collector IRI. In 2014, cereal sales took a 4 percent hit compared with 2013 results, IRI data indicate.
Diamond reported that in the full year ended July 31, snack sales were up 10 percent.
Kellogg and Diamond declined comment.
Written by Josh Kosman of MarketWatch