CORAL GABLES, FLA. — Expanded distribution and innovation bore fruit for Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc., which swung to profit in the recent fiscal year.
“We finished 2014 with a 7% increase in net sales on a year-over-year basis with all of our business segments and regions contributing,” said Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh, chairman and chief executive officer, during a Feb. 17 earnings call with financial analysts. “… and we continued our disciplined approach to creating efficiencies and reducing costs throughout our business.”
For the year ended Dec. 26, 2014, net income attributable to Fresh Del Monte was $142.4 million, equal to $2.54 per share on the common stock, which compared with a net loss of $34.4 million for fiscal 2013. Net sales advanced 6.6% to $3,927.5 million from $3,683.7 million the year before, driven by higher sales volume across all business segments, increased selling prices for bananas and other fresh produce, and favorable exchange rates.
For the fourth quarter, the company narrowed its loss to $0.4 million from $143.9 million for the year-ago quarter. Excluding special items, the company reported earnings per diluted share of 20c for the quarter, compared with a net loss per share of 29c in fiscal 2013.
Net sales climbed 5.6% to $929.3 million from $879.9 million, due to increased selling prices of bananas and other fresh produce, as well as higher sales volume of bananas.
“As we begin 2015, we remain focused on our initiatives,” Mr. Abu-Ghazaleh said. “We are confident the momentum we have built during the past year along with the experience we have in the industry will benefit us as we continue to seek out and capitalize on opportunities to grow our business, drive for profitability and increase the healthy, convenient products we deliver daily to consumers worldwide.”
Net sales for the banana segment increased 2.8% to $439 million for the quarter and 6.6% to $1,804.7 million for the year, due to increased sales volume in Europe and North America and higher selling prices in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Gross profit advanced to $5.7 million for the quarter, which compared with a loss of $4.4 million in the prior-year period, and surged 76% to $109.1 million for the year.
Net sales for the other fresh produce segment increased 11% to $401.1 million for the quarter and 6.5% to $1,744.7 million for the year, as a result of higher sales volume in the company’s pineapple, avocado and tomato product lines, and higher selling prices for avocados and melons. Gross profit was up 62% to $49.4 million for the quarter and up 9.1% to $210.4 million for the year.
Net sales for the prepared food segment dropped 3.7% to $89.2 million for the quarter and rose 7.1% to $378.1 million for the year. Gross profit climbed 11.8% to $7.6 million for the quarter and 28% to $45.3 million for the year.Net sales in North America, which accounts for just over half of the company’s business, rose 9% to $492.8 million for the quarter and 7.4% to $2,113.4 million for the year.