There are few better representatives for the blue-collar city of Pittsburgh and the state of Pennsylvania than H.J. Heinz (NYSE:HNZ), the world’s foremost purveyor of good ol’ ketchup.
But don’t look down your nose at the stuff, or the company — Heinz has done a lot with a few tomatoes, and it’s now a global foods octopus with tentacles in more than 200 countries across every permanently inhabited continent on the globe.
Heinz was founded by Henry John Heinz in 1869 in Sharpsburg, Penn., but moved its headquarters to Pittsburgh about 21 years later before going public in 1946. The company endured massive multiyear restructuring efforts starting in 1997 that included the closure of about 50 plants, close to 7,000 lost jobs and hundreds of millions in costs, but has come out of it much the stronger.
Heinz still employs about 35,000 workers across the globe, and in addition to its headquarters in Pittsburgh, it also has several plants across 12 other states. Aside from its ketchup business, it also flies a number of other banners, including Lea & Perrins (Worcestershire sauce), Ore-Ida and Bagel Bites, and has deals to produce foods for T.G.I. Friday’s and Weight Watchers (NYSE:WTW).
Heinz now does more than $11 billion in annual sales, the stock has enjoyed steady gains for years and the company throws off a sizable dividend.
The company also has plenty of Pennsylvania pride. The Heinz brand adorns the stomping grounds of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers — Heinz Field — and the logo itself is an homage to the state of Pennsylvania with an incorporation of the “keystone” shape.
And the aforementioned ketchup? Heinz proudly claims that it sells “650 million bottles of Heinz ketchup every year and approximately two single-serve packets of ketchup for every man, woman and child on the planet.”
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