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Headquarters: St. Louis.

Sales: $987 million, up 5.8%, and earnings up 13%, to $43 million, for the year ended Sept. 30. Ralston Foods (cereal) accounted for 65.5% of sales; Beech-Nut baby food 14.5%; ski resorts 13.4%; private-label crackers 6.6%.

Leadership: Richard A. Pearce, president-CEO; Joe R. Michel-etto, CEO-chief financial officer; Andrew R. Bresler, corporate VP-director of marketing, Ralston Foods; James A. Nichols, corporate VP-president, Beech-Nut; Susan Widham, VP-director of marketing, Beech-Nut.

Advertising & promotion expenditures: $214 million for fiscal 1994.

Agencies: D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, St. Louis; Cramer-Krasselt, Chicago.

Recent successes: Turning around profitability of Beech-Nut, increasing market share; successfully spinning off business from Ralston Purina Co.

Challenges: Achieving balance between efforts for Chex and other branded cereals, and booming private-label business; applying Beech-Nut structural lessons to cereal business; establishing identity separate from Ralston Purina.

Source: Advertising Age and company reports

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