Chiquita sales up in year

by Staff
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CINCINNATI — Chiquita Brands International, Inc. has posted preliminary full-year 2007 results that include net sales of $4.7 billion, up 4% from the previous year. Preliminary sales for the fourth quarter were $1.2 billion, up 6% from the same quarter of the previous year.

"Our estimated fourth-quarter results reflect improved year-over-year operating performance in the fourth quarter despite a rising cost environment," said Fernando Aguirre, chairman and chief executive officer. "In addition, our business restructuring announced in October remains on track to deliver our targeted savings in 2008."

For 2008, the company expects improved performance in sales and operating income as the result of contract and market price increases and benefits of business restructuring. In addition, the company expects year-on-year increases in industry and other costs that may exceed $120 million before fuel hedging gains.

"We will remain focused on three priorities in 2008 to drive progress on our strategy to achieve sustainable, profitable growth," Mr. Aguirre said. "First, we will complete the restructuring we began implementing in October to improve profitability by consolidating our operations and simplifying our overhead structure. Second, we will seek to improve execution and market performance in our core business while managing through a difficult cost environment. Third, we will continue to invest in long-term growth opportunities by expanding the introduction of innovative, higher-margin products that can help diversify our business by product, channel and geography."

The company also said it is reviewing its capital structure and considering options, which could include a potential amendment or refinancing of senior secured credit facility and a convertible note offering.

Banana prices in all markets were up in the fourth quarter compared with the same quarter of the previous year with pricing in North America up 7%.

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