Chiquita net falls 37% in fiscal 2010

by Eric Schroeder
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CINCINNATI — Net income at Chiquita Brands International, Inc. in fiscal 2010 totaled $57 million, equal to $1.27 per share on the common stock, down from $90 million, or $2.03 per share, in fiscal 2009. Net sales fell 7% to $3,227 million from $3,470 million.

For the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 2010, the company sustained a loss of $20 million, which compared with a loss of $27 million in the same period a year ago. Net sales were $773 million, down 12% from $879 million.

“We delivered a third consecutive year of comparable profitability on solid performance from our North American businesses,” said Fernando Aguirre, chairman and chief executive officer. “However, this was a challenging year and one of the most difficult operating environments in Europe in decades. During the fourth quarter, the magnitude of sudden banana industry supply shortages and related cost increases caused by adverse weather conditions was much greater than anticipated. However, pricing in global banana markets began to improve at the beginning of 2011. Overall, for 2011, we anticipate significant operating profit improvement versus 2010.”

During fiscal 2010, Chiquita said net sales in its Salads and Healthy Snacks business fell 9% to $1,028 million, while operating income rose 5% to $63 million, primarily as the result of cost reductions in salads and improving results in the European smoothie business partly offset by lower retail value-added salad volume.

Operating income within the Bananas segment, meanwhile, fell 53% to $81 million on a 7% decline in sales to $1,938 million.
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