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Kraft Heinz shares up on deal speculation

Talks reported with Campbell Soup

FILE PHOTO --  A Heinz Ketchup bottle sits between a box of Kraft macaroni and cheese and a bottle of Kraft Original Barbecue Sauce on a grocery store shelf in New York City, New York, U.S. March 25, 2015.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo
FILE PHOTO -- A Heinz Ketchup bottle sits between a box of Kraft macaroni and cheese and a bottle of Kraft Original Barbecue Sauce on a grocery store shelf in New York City, New York, U.S. March 25, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

Kraft Heinz Co. shares got a boost on Friday as the company reported quarterly profit and sales that topped estimates as deal talk speculation swirls.

The shares surged the most since February 2017 — to close Friday at $64.48 — buoyed by the better-than-expected results and a fresh report in the New York Post that the company had started preliminary talks with Campbell Soup about a deal.

Bloomberg News also reported on Friday that Kraft has narrowed its list of bidders for a portfolio of businesses in India that could fetch $1 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company has facilities in Eastern Iowa.

CEO Bernardo Hees said the company is interested in “big brands” with international sales potential and thinks the food industry is ripe for more consolidation, Hees said.

“We want to be a force behind it when it happens,” he said.

Kraft Heinz, formed in a 2015 merger orchestrated by Warren Buffett and 3G Capital, has struggled to grow sales with its stable of traditional brands, which include Maxwell House, Oscar Mayer and Capri Sun.

The company has used cost cuts to boost profit.

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