Wall Street eyes the breakup or sale of the Downers Grove, Ill.-based consumer products company as investors bet Sara Lee will somehow be altered dramatically in the coming months.


Sara Lee Corp., Downers Grove, Ill., has been exhibiting high price-to-earnings stock ratios of late-nearly twice that of some its peers, which usually means the market has factored in the possibility of a takeover or sale of additional business units into the stock price.

Recently, the maker of Jimmy Dean sausages and Sara Lee cheesecake agreed to sell its North American bakery to Mexico City-based Grupo Bimbo for $959 million. Last month, Sara Lee closed the sale of its household and body care business to Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever for $1.6 billion. Then, it said that it’s selling its international shoe-care business, including Kiwi shoe polish, to Racine, Wis.-based S.C. Johnson & Son Inc. for $328 million.

Sources also say that Sara Lee is dividing into two companies, one for its meat brands and the other for coffee. The company, which has been selling units not related to food or beverages, last month rejected a takeover bid from Brazil-based meat processor JBS SA.

Private-equity firm Apollo Global Management LLC and investor C. Dean Metropoulos reportedly formed a group of investors to explore a purchase of Sara Lee Corp. Apollo and Metropoulos, a Connecticut entrepreneur who acquired Pabst Brewing Co. last year, are leading a consortium that includes Bain Capital LLC and TPG Capital LP, the report says.