First quarter earnings off for Fresh Del Monte

05/02/2013 12:23:00 PM
Tom Karst

Gains in fresh-cut sales in the U.S. could not offset lower banana prices in Europe, and Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. reported a 34% decline in earnings for the first quarter of 2013 compared with the first quarter of 2012.

The Coral Gables, Fla.-based global marketer of fresh produce said in a news release that earnings per diluted share of $0.71 for the first quarter of 2013 compared with earnings per diluted share of $1.08 in the first quarter of 2012.

Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh, chairman and chief executive officer, said in the release that the company gained a larger market share in fresh-cut business in the U.S. but those wins were tempered by a challenging market in Europe.

The company said in the release that net sales for the first quarter of 2013 were $918.8 million, up slightly from $897.9 million for the same quarter a year ago. The increase in sales was driven by the fresh produce business in North America and the Middle East, according to the release. Gross profit for the first quarter of 2013 was $98.6 million, down from $112.4 million from a year ago. Lower banana prices in Europe and soft demand caused by the weak European economy hurt profits, according to the release.

First quarter worldwide banana pricing for Fresh Del Monte declined 1% to $14.97 per unit compared with year-ago numbers, according to the release. Volume was 3% higher and unit costs were 2% higher than the first quarter of 2012. Overall banana sales in the first quarter totaled $406 million, up 2% from a year ago. Gross profit from bananas was $30.5 million in the first quarter, off 21% from a year ago, according to the release.

Driven by fresh-cut, non-tropical and melon categories, net sales of other fresh produce marketed by Fresh Del Monte totaled $433 million, up 3% from the first quarter of 2012, according to the release. Fresh-cut sales surged 7% and melon sales climbed 8% in the first quarter, according to the release. Pineapple sales were steady and tomato sales were off 7%,according to the release.



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