Chiquita Brands income flat during 2011

by Staff
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CINCINNATI — Chiquita Brands International, Inc.’s income during 2011 was flat compared with the previous year, and the company narrowed its loss during the fourth quarter as the result of efforts to drive down costs and refinance.

For the year ended Dec. 31, 2011, the company had income of $57 million, equal to $1.25 per share on the common stock, nearly equal to income of $57 million, or $1.27 per share, during fiscal 2010. Sales for the year were $3,139 million, down 3% from $3,227 million during fiscal 2010.

“We delivered a fourth consecutive year of comparable profitability, improving our results over last year, particularly in the fourth quarter, which benefitted from our efforts to drive down costs as well as from the refinancing activities we completed earlier in the year,” said Fernando Aguirre, chairman and chief executive officer. “We had a much better year in bananas driven by higher pricing and volume in North America, and initial recovery in Europe. Our salads business did not perform as well as expected, and we’ve taken a number of corrective actions and adapted our structure and strategy to be more successful and profitable.”

During the year the Bananas segment had a comparable operating income of $132 million, up 64% from $81 million during the previous year. Sales for the segment were $2,023 million, up 4% from $1,938 million during the previous year.

The Salads and Health Snacks segment had an operating income of $8 million during the year, down 88% from $63 million during the previous year. Sales for the segment were $953 million, down 7% from $1,028 million during fiscal 2010.

During the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, the company as a whole sustained a loss of $16 million, which compared with a loss of $20 million during the same quarter of the previous year. Sales for the quarter were $722 million, down 7% from $773 million during the same quarter of the previous year.

“Going forward we are focused on growing revenues and profitability in core banana and salads products, using our existing capacity and capabilities to enter new markets and providing a more comprehensive product offering,” Mr. Aguirre said. “We will continue enhancing the efficiency and flexibility of our supply chain and removing costs from our business. We have made solid progress in realigning our salad business structure, reconfiguring banana shipping, reducing debt and consolidating our corporate structure through our move to Charlotte. We are looking forward to another year of progress in improving the foundations of our business and its long-term profitability.”

The company also named Brian W. Kocher as senior vice-president and chief financial officer. Mr. Kocher has been with the company since 2005, most recently in the role of president of North America.

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