Factbox: The many parts of Sara Lee

NEW YORK (BestGrowthStock) – Sara Lee Corp (SLE.N: ) may soon get taken over, as the food and beverage maker has attracted interest from a group of private equity firms including Apollo Global Management (APOLO.UL: ) and Brazilian meat processor JBS (JBSS3.SA: ), according to sources familiar with the situation.

The company has a wide array of businesses, from hot dogs to coffee to desserts, and industry watchers say potential buyers may not want the whole thing, fueling speculation that the company could be split up into different pieces.

Here is an overview of the Downers Grove, Illinois-based company’s business units.

* International beverages — Sara Lee’s largest and most profitable unit, this business includes coffee and tea brands such as Senseo, Douwe Egberts and Pickwick in Australia, Europe and Brazil.

With first-quarter sales of $728 million and pre-tax income of $90 million, it made up 28 percent of the company’s total sales but 48 percent of profit.

Sara Lee must repatriate much of that cash to the United States to fund its restructuring and pay its dividend, so analysts say it operates inefficiently from a tax perspective.

The international drinks unit is one of the businesses Sara Lee has said it plans to focus on moving forward. It is seen as an attractive asset, particularly to private equity buyers, given its strong profit margins, which JP Morgan analyst Terry Bivens estimates at 17.6 percent.

In his analysis of the sum of Sara Lee’s parts, Bivens said Sara Lee in a buyout could be worth $19.33 per share. Based on the number of shares outstanding as of October 2, that would be $12.36 billion. He assigned the drinks business a multiple of 12 times earnings (the highest of any unit), and said it could be worth $11.13 per share. That would be $7.11 billion.

* North American retail — The second-biggest unit sells packaged meats including Ball Park frankfurters, Hillshire Farm lunchmeat and Jimmy Dean sausages, as well as frozen Sara Lee desserts.

It had first-quarter sales of $707 million and income of $63 million, accounting for 27 percent of Sara Lee’s total sales and 33 percent of its profit. This is seen as the most attractive asset for JBS, the world’s largest beef processor. Based on Bivens’ analysis and the latest share count, the unit could be worth $3.73 billion.

* North American fresh bakery — This business, which had first-quarter sales of $516 million, is being sold to Mexico’s Grupo Bimbo (BIMBOA.MX: ) for $925 million in a deal expected to close in the first half of 2011. The unit, which sells fresh bread and other bakery products, has been a drag on earnings in recent quarters, due to rising wheat costs and pricing pressure from cheaper store brands.

* Other smaller units include a North American foodservice business and an international bakery business, which analysts say could be kept or later sold. Based on the latest share count and Bivens’ estimates, the food service business could be worth $1.2 billion and the international bakery business $306 million.

(Reporting by Martinne Geller; Editing by Gary Hill)