Dole Food Co., Inc. Reports Decline In First Quarter Earnings

Dole Food Co., Inc. announced financial and operating results for the first quarter ended March 24, 2012. Additionally, Dole announced that its board of directors and management have initiated a comprehensive strategic review of its businesses seeking to enhance shareholder value.

Dole reported first quarter 2012 Adjusted EBITDA of $71 million compared to $111 million in the first quarter of 2011. Comparable income from continuing operations for the first quarter of 2012 was $13 million or $0.15 per share, compared to $47 million, or $0.53 per share in the first quarter of 2011. GAAP income from continuing operations for the first quarter of 2012 was $17 million, or $0.20 per share, compared to $2 million, or $0.02 in the first quarter of 2011.

“Our first quarter results were impacted by extraordinarily low prices in all of our major commodity vegetables,” said David A. DeLorenzo, Dole’s president and CEO in a prepared statement. “Our packaged salads and fresh berries businesses had very strong results in the quarter, however, these gains were offset by the weaker performance in commodity vegetables. As anticipated, banana earnings were weaker due to lower pricing in North America and Europe, as well as higher fruit costs from Latin America, which more than offset a strong performance in Asia bananas. Our packaged foods segment performed well, with Adjusted EBITDA increasing by 10 percent. We are very pleased with the performance of our new Fruit Smoothie Shakers® and Frozen Fruit single-serve cups, and have launched significant marketing campaigns in support of these new products.”

“In addition, we have initiated a strategic business review of our businesses,” DeLorenzo continued. “As part of this review, the alternatives we may consider include a full or partial separation of one or more of our businesses through a spin-off or other capital markets transaction, as well as other alternatives that will enhance shareholder value. We are committed to enhancing shareholder value and this review is a company priority.”

Revenues decreased 4 percent to $1.6 billion during the quarter ended March 24, 2012. Excluding revenues of Dole Spain, which was sold during the fourth quarter of 2011, sales decreased 1 percent. Fresh fruit revenues decreased primarily as a result of lower sales in the European ripening and distribution business and lower pricing for bananas sold in North America. These factors were partially offset by improved pricing for bananas in Asia, improved volumes of other fresh fruit sold in Asia, higher volumes of fresh pineapples sold worldwide and higher sales of Chilean deciduous fruit. Fresh vegetables revenues increased 2 percent, primarily due to higher sales of fresh berries and packaged salads partially offset by lower pricing for fresh-packed vegetables. Packaged foods revenues increased 1 percent, primarily due to higher sales of frozen fruit and healthy snacks in North America and improved pricing worldwide, partially offset by lower worldwide volumes of packaged fruit.