Bridgford Foods: Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen

Feb.23.07 | About: Bridgford Foods (BRID)

How many people does it take to run a board meeting? No, this is not a trick question. At most publicly traded concerns, the CEO usually wears the Chairman hat, too. In the rare case—when a founder will not go “quietly into the night,”--the answer might be two, for the founder will stick around, holding an honorary title, such as Chairman emeritus.

We stumbled on a rarity—three persons holding the title of Chairman of the Board of Directors—simultaneously!

A triumvirate sits at the head of the Director’s table at Anaheim-based Bridgford Foods Corp (NASDAQ:BRID). According to the recently filed Proxy statement with the SEC, Alan L. Bridgford, 71, Hugh W Bridgford, 75, and William L. Bridgford, 52, held the position of Senior Chairman, VP and Chairman, and Chairman, respectively.

Hugh Wm. Bridgford and Allan L. Bridgford are brothers. William L. Bridgford was elected to the Board of Directors on August 9, 2004, and he is the son of Hugh Wm. Bridgford.

In fiscal year 2006, Alan, Hugh, and William received a salary of $210,914, 241,460, and $198,750, respectively. Allan L. Bridgford and Hugh Wm. Bridgford also draw annual defined benefits and SERP benefits of $67,761 and $48,771, respectively, and, $51,528 and $61,080, respectively.

Repeated operating losses and eroding sales—two good reasons why investors long ago fled the stock of this distributor of frozen, refrigerated and snack food products. The share price has shed 42.2% in value in the last four years.

The old adage about too many cooks in the kitchen fits very well at Bridgford, for how much worse might the Company’s performance—stock and financial—have been if there were only one Bridgford at the helm?

COMPARISON OF 5 YEAR CUMULATIVE TOTAL RETURN *
AMONG BRIDGFORD FOODS CORP., THE S & P 500 INDEX
AND A PEER GROUP


* $100 invested on 11/2/01 in stock or on 10/31/01 in index-including reinvestment of dividends. Index calculated on month-end basis.

David J Phillips does not hold financial interests in any of the companies mentioned in this posting.