Stronger lemon sales have prompted Santa Paula, Calif.-based Limoneira Co. to raise its earnings guidance for the 2017 fiscal year.

First quarter revenue was up 12% from the same period in 2016, according to a news release.

Lemon sales were $26 million, up considerably from $21.9 million. About 909,000 cartons sold in the first quarter for an average price of $23.10, with volume up considerably from the same period in 2016, when about 753,000 cartons sold for an average price of $23.46.

"We achieved record lemon sales for the first quarter of fiscal 2017, and the efficiencies from our recently completed packing facility also benefited our first quarter results," Harold Edwards, president and CEO, said in the release. "Over the past few years, we have made many strategic investments including the purchase of additional citrus acreage, expansion of our One World of Citrus marketing program and increased partner relationships throughout the world which are enabling us to expand our share of the global citrus market."

On a conference call to discuss the quarterly earnings report, Edwards said the new packinghouse, which opened in March, is exceeding expectations.

"Our margins are greater coming out of our packing operations than we anticipated," Edwards said.

Limoneira decided to raise its earnings guidance range based on higher lemon revenues and a considerably higher pricing outlook for avocados.

Earnings per diluted share are now expected to be between $0.48 and $0.52, up from the original estimated range of $0.38 to $0.42. Operating income is expected to be between $14.4 million and $14.9 million, up from the previous guidance of between $11.4 million and $11.9 million.

 
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