Manitowoc to spin off its food service equipment business after push from investors

Crane-maker and food service company Manitowoc said Thursday it will split itself in two, a move encouraged by activist investors.

Manitowoc said it plans to spin off the food service business, which had $1.6 billion in revenue in 2014 and makes equipment including ice, beverage, refrigeration, food preparation, and cooking for restaurants, convenience stores, hotels and hospitals. It expects to complete the move during the first quarter of 2016.

Manitowoc's other business makes cranes for the construction industry, and it had $2.3 billion in revenue last year.

The company said the separation will allow each business to pursue its own strategy as market conditions improve.

Manitowoc Co. shares advanced $1.68, or 8.7 percent, to $20.92 in aftermarket trading.

In 2014 two major shareholders, Relational Investors LLC and Carl Icahn, pushed for the company to split up. According to FactSet, Relational is the second-largest owner of Manitowoc shares and Icahn Associates is the third-largest.

The company also reported its fourth-quarter results on Thursday. Its net income and revenue both fell short of Wall Street forecasts, according to estimates from Zacks Investment Research.

Shares of the Manitowoc, Wisconsin-based company rose 17 cents to $19.24 on Thursday. Since July 30 the stock has fallen 37 percent.