Fresh Del Monte swings to profit in year

by Staff
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CORAL GABLES, FLA. — Boosted by a strong fourth-quarter finish, Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. posted net income of $179.8 million, equal to $3.07 per share on the common stock, for the year ended Dec. 28, which compared with a loss of $142.2 million during 2006. Sales in the year were $3,365.5 million, up 5% from $3,214.3 million during the previous year.

For the fourth quarter, the company posted a net income of $34.4 million, or 57c per share, up from a loss of $58.8 million during the same quarter of the previous year. The company attributed higher income to a reduction in selling general and administrative expense, gains from foreign exchange rates, lower asset impairment and other charges, and the sale of non-performing assets. Sales for the quarter were $848.2 million, up 15% from $737.6 million during the same quarter of 2006.

"We delivered the best fourth quarter in our history, driven by the improvements made in our business segments," said Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh, chairman and chief executive officer. "In spite of the fact that we experienced dramatic increases in fruit production, procurement and logistics costs that exceeded previous record highs, we were still able to remain flexible and use strategically creative methods to address these factors. We focused our sales of fruit to markets with the greatest demand, focused our fresh-cut line on the highest value products, capitalized on health and wellness and convenience trends and achieved higher selling prices in key product lines."

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