Unilever shareholders may have missed out on the 18% premium the Kraft Heinz $50-a-share bid offered, but the aborted bid has still left them sitting on a tidy 12.5% profit since news of it leaked.

The potential short-term returns promised by a Unilever takeover saw its shares rocket up 13.4% on Friday to 3,797p. Inevitably, they bumped back down to earth on Monday after Kraft Heinz halted its pursuit, but the 6.6% fall on Monday suggested investors felt pressure remained on the Unilever board to give something back to its investors.

Thus it proved on Wednesday, when Unilever said it was seeking ways to return value to shareholders and promised earnings growth would be at the upper end of its previous 40bp-80bp guidance. The results of its “comprehensive review of options” won’t be known until April, but shares jumped back up 5.7% to 3,791p on the news.

Bernstein welcomed the move from “a chastened management team”, though it noted “more cynical investors might ask why CEO Polman was not more aggressive for eight years”. The broker sensed investors were pushing for “something bigger” than merely an acceleration in operating performance, mooting a complete split of food and home & personal care or a major acquisition. SocGen wrote: “We have been lukewarm on Unilever as we saw it as a mass market consumer portfolio underweight in premium where most of the growth is… In our view this is now trumped by the consequences of the aborted Kraft Heinz bid.”

Kraft Heinz shares were up 10.7% on Friday (after slumping 4.2% last Thursday) and remain up 6.8% at $93.36 as the market expects it to make another major play soon.

Elsewhere, Glanbia jumped 7.3% to €18.61 after the announcement it is selling off 60% of its dairy business to the Glanbia Co-operative Society for €112m (£94.8m). The listed Irish food group will spin off two businesses, Glanbia Consumer Foods Ireland and Glanbia Agribusiness, into a separate company called Glanbia Ireland and will retain a 40% stake in the jv.