European bananas, cantaloupe outbreak affect Del Monte

11/01/2011 12:53:00 PM
Bruce Blythe

The company continues to gain market share in fresh-cut fruit amid strong demand and rising prices, Abu-Ghazaleh said. “We expect to expand our position as the global leader in this category,” he said.

In melons, sales dropped 28% to $13.3 million as volume plunged 44% even as prices rose 30%, Fresh Del Monte said. Net tomato sales fell 32% to $16.5 million as volume slumped 30%.

Fresh Del Monte previously said it was restructuring its melon program, downsizing sales of traditional varieties and shifting resources to a recently-launched specialty melon program. The melon business is “an ongoing battle,” Abu-Ghazaleh said, “but we feel like we’ve turned a corner” toward greater profits.

For the three months ended Sept. 30, Fresh Del Monte posted net income of $12.9 million, down from $13.4 million during the same period a year earlier, the company said. Net sales rose 0.3% to $795.2 billion.

On a per-share basis, Fresh Del Monte earned 22 cents during the quarter excluding special items unchanged from a year earlier. Per-share earnings were about 2 cents above the average analyst estimate, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

In midday trading Nov. 1, Fresh Del Monte shares fell 76 cents, or 3 %, to $24.70. The stock is still up about 15% from a nine-month low of $21.41 reached Aug. 8.


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