Avocados pinch Limoneira’s quarterly revenue

01/15/2014 05:47:00 PM
Mike Hornick

Limoneira Co.Revenue at Limoneira Co. was up 29% for the fiscal year ending Oct. 31, but lower avocado volume cut into fourth-quarter sales that trailed year-ago numbers.

Revenue for the Santa Paula, Calif.-based grower-shipper was $84.9 million for the year, up from $65.8 million in 2012.

“(It) was another strong year for Limoneira,” Harold Edwards, president and chief executive officer, said in a news release. “We generated solid revenue, (adjusted earnings) and net income growth, reflecting the strength of our expanding agribusiness.”

Fourth-quarter agribusiness revenue was $12.9 million, down 5.1% from $13.6 million in 2012. Avocados returned $1.2 million, down sharply from $3.3 million. Limoneira attributed an earlier end to the avocado harvest. Reduced volume was partly offset by higher average prices.

Limoneira posted an operating loss of $1.6 million for the quarter, compared to operating income of $0.5 million last year, due to the avocado decline.

Fourth-quarter lemon sales were $9.5 million, up $1 million from a year ago. A higher average price per carton, partly offset by fewer fresh cartons sold, accounted for the rise.

Orange revenue was $0.4 million, down from $0.7 million due to a smaller crop. Specialty citrus and other crop revenues were $1.7 million for the quarter, up from $1.1 million.

Besides agribusiness, Limoneira also has rental and real estate development operations.

The company’s Sept. 6 acquisition of Yuma, Ariz.-based Associated Citrus Packers Inc. contributed to a rise in quarterly costs and expenses, up $1.6 million to $15.9 million. Associated Citrus earned about $0.5 million in operating income after the acquisition.

Limoneira also acquired, in October, 760 acres — a property known as Lemons 400 — in Porterville, Calif., for $8.75 million in cash. Of that, 360 acres is leased mainly for cattle grazing.

Fiscal year 2013 operating results included a $3.1 million gain from the sale of Calavo Growers Inc. common stock and a $1.8 million equity loss on a property disposition.

Outlook

In the first two quarters of the new fiscal year, Limoneira expects incremental revenue and earnings from the Associated Citrus and Lemons 400 acquisitions, according to the release.

The company expects to sell 3 million to 3.3 million cartons of fresh lemons for the current fiscal year, and about 6 million pounds of avocados. California avocados tend to alternate years of high and low production, and the grower-shipper anticipates volumes will be lower. Limoneira expects higher lemon and avocado prices for 2014.

Limoneira has more than 10,000 acres of owned, leased and managed agricultural property, up nearly 30% since the start of the past fiscal year. It has about 140 lemon customers, and fresh lemon sales were up about 700,000 cartons.



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