H.J. Heinz Chairman and Chief Executive William Johnson told CNBC that the company has not held talks to sell itself, but he thinks recent market speculation about a potential deal is a reflection of the progress the company has made over the past year.
"No, we haven't really had any conversations with anyone," Johnson said, when asked about recent rumors that Heinz could be the target of a private-equity buyout, during an interview on CNBC's "Power Lunch."
"I think those rumors are a reflection of how well we're doing and how attractive we've become, not only to consumers, but to shareholders as well," Johnson said.
Earlier Thursday, Heinz posted an 8% increase in quarterly profits. The Pittsburgh ketchup maker also increased its dividend and raised its fiscal-year forecast.
Last year, Heinz unveiled a cost-cutting plan aimed at improving profit margins, which had been under pressure from rising raw material costs and product development investments.
At the time, Heinz management was being criticized by activist investor Nelson Peltz, who said the company had not moved fast enough to protect its profits from rising costs and increased competition. Peltz waged a proxy battle last summer, and eventually won two seats on the board.
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Heinz's latest earnings reflected the progress it's made implementing its plans.