TreeHouse Foods Inc
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Consumer Staples : Food Products | Mid Cap ValueCompany profile

TreeHouse Foods, Inc. is a consumer packaged food and beverage manufacturer. The Company's segments include North American Retail Grocery, Food Away From Home, and Industrial and Export. The Company manufactures a range of shelf stable, refrigerated, fresh and frozen products. Its product categories include beverages, salad dressings, snack nuts, beverage enhancers, pickles, sauces, cereals, pasta and dry dinners, cookies and crackers, retail bakery, aseptic products, jams and other products. The North American Retail Grocery segment sells branded and private label products to customers within the United States and Canada. The Food Away From Home segment sells products to foodservice customers, including restaurant chains and food distribution companies within the United States and Canada. The Industrial and Export segment includes the Company's co-pack business and non-dairy powdered creamer sales to industrial customers for use in industrial applications.

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UPDATE: Billionaires haven't earned all they have

10:49 am ET February 9, 2019 (MarketWatch)

By Rex Nutting, MarketWatch

The very wealthy do produce some value, but most of them are rentiers, piggybacking on the work of others

By proposing to tax large incomes at a higher rate and to tax the wealth of the very rich, progressive politicians such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ( and Sens. Elizabeth Warren ( and Bernie Sanders ( are forcing a long-overdue re-examination of what billionaires actually contribute.

Are billionaires and other "people of means" ( (billionaire Howard Schultz's preferred phrase) the main engines of social progress and economic growth, as many on the right say? ( Or, are they "vampire squids" ( sucking the lifeblood of the economy, as a few on the left believe?

Are billionaires the greatest makers in the economy, or the greatest takers?

Also read:Is taxing the rich popular? Fox Business host blames 'the idea of fairness' that's being taught in schools (

My own view is that most billionaires do create some value, but they generally take more than their share of money and power. Their wealth far exceeds their economic contributions. Plutocrats don't deserve the guillotine, but neither do they deserve billions of dollars.

Plutocrats are, above all, rentiers.

The rentier class

Most wealth is created, maintained and sustained by extracting unearned rents ( the rest of us. The wealthy take advantage of monopolies, asymmetric information, network effects, regulatory capture, artificial scarcities created by patents, licenses or trademarks, bailouts, subsidies, protectionism, financialization, and globalization.

In economics, "rents" is a word that means "leveraging control over something that already exists, such as land, knowledge, or money, to increase your wealth," in the words of economic historian Rutger Bregman. ( concept dates back to Adam Smith and David Ricardo, who argued that owners of land or natural resources could demand payments in excess of what's required to bring their land or resources into production.

The classic example of a "rent" is a landowner who controls both banks of a river and charges a toll on anyone who wants to sail through. The rentier did not create the river, but collects the rent anyway.

More recently, economists on both the right and left have championed the theory of "rent-seeking" behavior ( cronyism) by those who want to profit from patents, subsidies, licenses, bailouts, protections, or just having the authorities look the other way.

It's not just wealth that they take, but political power as well. Do you think that Donald Trump, or Howard Schultz, or the Koch brothers, or Mike Bloomberg, or Warren Buffett, or George Soros, or Kanye West could get anyone to pay any attention to their political views if they weren't already rich and connected?

What upsets the ruling class most about Warren, Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez and others isn't the threat to their wealth -- they would barely notice the level of taxes now being proposed. Rather, it's the threat to their political superpowers. Don't these mortals know better than to challenge the gods?


Who's who in the rentier class

Enough theory. Let's look at some facts.

Forbes, Bloomberg News and others try to quantify how much wealth the very wealthy have. It's best to think of these billionaire rankings as rough estimates, because so much wealth can be (and is) hidden. Others lie about their wealth to make them seem much richer than they are. Wilbur Ross and Donald Trump are good examples of this.

Didier Jacobs, senior economist for Oxfam America, estimated in 2016 that about 75% of U.S. billionaire wealth is derived from rents. (

( looked at the Forbes billionaires list ( to see which industries produced the most billionaires. Not too surprisingly, the rentier sectors produce almost the billionaires.

Bezos, Gates and Buffett

I'll go through the current Bloomberg Billionaires list ( for some specific examples.

At the top with $135 billion sits Jeff Bezos of Amazon (AMZN). No one can fault his work ethic or his business instincts. He deserves to be rich, but his status as the richest human is bolstered by the monopolies that Bezos has created ( retailing and cloud services. Amazon knows what you want before you do.

In addition, Amazon is hyperaggressive about evading taxes ( it has received billions in favors ( local governments.

Next up, Bill Gates of Microsoft (MSFT) with $96 billion. Gates (and No. 18 billionaire Steve Ballmer) built a suite of monopolies based on copyrights and network externalities. The bigger Microsoft got, the more powerful its monopoly became.

In third place, Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA) with $86 billion. Unlike Bezos or Gates, Buffett didn't invent or perfect any technology or company. His one big idea was to invest ruthlessly in companies that have "moats" that protect them from competition. In other words, the world's third largest fortune is based entirely on investing in monopolies.

And so on. No. 4 billionaire Bernard Arnault "earned" $77 billion by integrating a number of luxury-goods brands into one company, LVMH . High-end brand names are able to command much higher prices than competing goods, throwing off billions in rents to Arnault and others, such No 12 billionaire Françoise Bettencourt Meyers ($48 billion), who inherited the L'Oréal (OR.FR) fortune, and Giovanni Ferrero at No. 32 who inherited the chocolatier and Tic Tac maker worth $24 billion.

Others have made their fortunes by going down-market: Phil Knight (No. 26) got $32 billion by selling the only sneakers you can buy that have a swoosh (NKE) . The Walton siblings (Nos. 13, 14 and 17) inherited the retail giant Walmart (WMT) that delivers everyday low prices to the masses by leveraging its monopsony power.

No. 5 Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook (FB) ($67 billion) and No. 8 Larry Page ($55 billion) and No. 9 Sergey Brin ($54 billion) of Google (GOOGL)(GOOGL) invented dominating online platforms that suck in more than half of all online advertising, without creating any appreciable content of their own.

No. 7 Carlos Slim earned his $60 billion fortune the old-fashioned way: He got an exclusive license from the Mexican government to run the mobile phone network . Mukesh Ambani (No. 11) and the Koch brothers (Nos. 15 and 16) got rich selling hydrocarbons that nature so thoughtfully laid down a few hundred millions of years ago.

Except for the ones who inherited a fortune, these people work extremely hard for their money. They deliver goods and services that consumer love and depend on. There's no doubt that they produce value.

They also capture a lot of rents, which means they really haven't earned everything they have. Nor do they deserve the political power they use to protect and expand their rent-seeking behavior.

The problem we have with billionaires isn't that they have wealth, it's how they got it. An economy based on collecting rents is inefficient and unfair. It's the rent-seeking we need to eliminate (, not the wealth. More on that in later columns.

Now read:Vivek Wadhwa says the tech industry is getting away with the murder of capitalism (

-Rex Nutting; 415-439-6400;

RELATED: The 15 U.S. companies that are investing the most in tomorrow's big ideas (

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RELATED: ( the stock market destroyed the middle class (

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 09, 2019 10:49 ET (15:49 GMT)

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