Why Ralcorp Shares Rallied

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Ralcorp Holdings (NYSE: RAH  ) surged 26% today after ConAgra Foods (NYSE: CAG  ) agreed to acquire the private label food company for $5 billion.

So what: The all-cash deal values Ralcorp at $90 per share and represents a 28% premium to its closing price on Monday. ConAgra is making the move to strengthen its position in the highly attractive packaged food business -- private label foods have been growing at about double the rate as branded foods -- and judging by its own 4% stock jump, Wall Street is pleased with the price being paid to do it.

Now what: The transaction is expected to close by March 31, 2013 and be accretive to ConAgra's earnings one year after that. "Ralcorp is already the largest private label food company in the U.S. and is well positioned for future growth," ConAgra CEO said. "The transaction will allow us to apply our scale and combined operational expertise to this important growth area, and will strengthen our position as one of the leading food companies in North America." So while Ralcorp shares are likely all popped out, ConAgra's newly bolstered presence in the private label space might be a driver of market-topping returns going forward.

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