Chiquita swings to profit in quarter

by FoodBusinessNews.net Staff
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CINCINNATI — Thanks in part to improved banana pricing, benefits from business restructuring and continued recovery in value-added salads, Chiquita Brands International, Inc. posted a first-quarter income of $31.7 million, equal to 74c per share on the common stock. This compared with a loss of $3.4 million during the same quarter of the previous year. Net sales for the quarter were $1,270.5 million, up 7% from $1,192.4 million during the same quarter of 2007.

"Our excellent first quarter represents the third consecutive quarter of year-over-year improvements and illustrates that we continue to take the right actions to drive profitability in our business," said Fernando Aguirre, chairman and chief executive officer. "We have demonstrated the ability to overcome cost challenges, and we expect this improvement will continue, particularly in the first half of the year … We also delivered two other major achievements, which reflect both our financial discipline and confidence in our long-term strategy. We successfully refinanced our capital structure to further strengthen our balance sheet and signed agreements to develop two major sources of bananas in Africa for our European markets without investing any capital in owned assets. We will continue to focus on strong execution throughout our operations and to invest in innovative, long-term growth opportunities."

The bananas segment had an operating income of $61.1 million, up 83% from income of $33.4 million during the same quarter of 2007. Sales in the segment were $583.9 million, up 12% from $522.8 million during the same quarter of the previous year.

Operating income in the salads and healthy snacks segment was $7.1 million in the quarter, up significantly from $600,000 during the same quarter of 2007. Sales in the segment were $327.1 million, up 12% from $291.9 million during the same quarter of the previous year.

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