Dean Foods Company today announced record earnings for the fourth quarter and full year, driven by a solid performance in its Dairy segment and continued focus on new product initiatives.Fourth quarter income from continuing operations grew 10.3 percent to $29.9 million before plant closure costs, compared with $27.1 million in the fourth quarter of 1999, and earnings per share grew 22.1 percent to $.83, up from $.68 a year ago. Sales increased 2.0 percent to a record $1,020.5 million, up from $1,000.5 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 1999.Fiscal 2000 income from continuing operations advanced 35.2 percent to $109.9 million before plant closure costs, from $81.3 million in fiscal 1999, and earnings per share increased 42.8 percent to $2.87 from $2.01 in 1999. Sales increased 8.3 percent to $4,065.6 million in fiscal 2000, compared to $3,755.1 million in fiscal 1999."Our record fourth quarter earnings, with a greater than 10 percent increase from 1999, are the result of the strong performance of the Dairy segment," stated Howard Dean, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "Dairy operating earnings before plant closure charges increased more than 36 percent in the fourth quarter and nearly 56 percent for fiscal 2000, primarily due to continued improvements in operating performance and favorable commodities pricing.""The performance by the Dairy segment offset difficulties experienced in the Pickles segment," continued Mr. Dean. "Continued market pressure by the branded market leader and incremental costs due to poor crop conditions negatively impacted the performance in Pickles. The Specialty segment was impacted by one-time costs associated with integration of systems and processes with an outside warehouse."Dean Foods' fourth quarter results included the following highlights: