(June 11, 12:30 p.m.) Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc., Coral Gables, Fla., announced it acquired the shares of Costa Rica banana and pineapple growing and marketing operations for $403 million.

Investors greeted the news favorably, with Reuters reporting June 10 that Wachovia analyst Jonathan Feeney raised his rating on the company’s stock to "outperform" from "market perform." Feeney said the move could help Fresh Del Monte earnings immediately and offset its unhedged fuel position.

In its June 9 news release, Fresh Del Monte said it acquired Costa Rica banana producer Desarollo Agroindustrial de Frutales, S.A. and pineapple grower Frutas de Exportacion, S.A.

In addition, Fresh Del Monte said it acquired the shares of an affiliated sales and marketing company, collectively known as Caribana.

"Caribana is a natural fit with Fresh Del Monte. Their products perfectly mirror those that we currently offer,” Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh, Fresh Del Monte’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in the release.

He said the move substantially increases Del Monte branded banana and Del Monte Gold pineapple production in Central America.

As a result of the acquisition, the release said Fresh Del Monte’s current land holdings in Costa Rica increased by approximately 32,000 acres.

Fresh Del Monte gains more acreage in Costa Rica