It's notable that Northfield, Ill.-based Kraft Foods, the No. 2 global food company after Nestle S.A., with some 97,000 employees and annual revenues of approximately $48 billion in 170 countries, hired Sam Rovit as executive vice president, strategy in January. He is responsible for collaborating closely with the business and functions to implement the company's strategic priorities for growth and cost leadership as well as accelerating the performance of the current portfolio and channels. He succeeds Michael Osanloo, now president of Kraft Foods' grocery business in North America.
Rovit joins Kraft Foods from Bain & Co. with more than 20 years of global growth and cost leadership strategy experience across a variety of industries. He successfully led Bain's Global Agribusiness, Global Mergers and Acquisitions and Corporate Renewal practices, and is the author of numerous articles on M&A, and co-author of Mastering the Merger: Four Critical Decisions that Make or Break a Deal (Harvard Business School Press, Nov. 2004). As CEO of Swift & Co. from 2005 to 2007, he led the turnaround of that business, taking it from last to best in service and improving all its controllable components during the worst market conditions in 40 years.
"Sam has impressive strategic and operational experience in the consumer packaged goods industry as CEO of Swift and as a senior partner in a blue-chip consulting firm," said Chairman and CEO Irene Rosenfeld. "His deep understanding of corporate, customer, category and channel strategies will be instrumental in Kraft's delivery of top-tier financial results."
Rovit earned his MBA from Harvard Business School, his master's in Military Strategy, Asian Studies and International Business from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and his bachelor's in Public Policy from Duke University.
Kraft Foods is one of J.P. Morgan's picks for 2011, even though it was disappointed by the lackluster third-quarter performance of Cadbury, the acquisition made in 2009, and weaker-than-anticipated organic growth, at 2.5 percent. Still, it expects solid earnings growth in 2011, helped by cost and revenue synergies from the Cadbury acquisition. Also, margins were crimped by a recent investment in marketing initiatives, which may have paid off during the fourth quarter. Kraft rose 16 percent in 2010 and still receives favorable analyst reviews, with 40 percent ranking it "buy."