Dole Food Co., the US fruit and vegetable group, has posted a quarterly loss of US$54m in its first earnings statement since last month's IPO.

The company, which listed a chunk of the business in New York last month, said yesterday (19 November) that its third-quarter net losses had widened from $21m a year ago.

Nevertheless, the group claimed to be "extremely pleased" with the recent developments at the business - including its IPO last month - after reporting a jump in third-quarter earnings at the EBITDA level.

Third-quarter adjusted EBITDA had increased 18% to US$85m. Turnover, however, fell 14% to $1.9bn on the back of last year's sale of the JP Fresh and Dole France businesses.

The group said the IPO had raised US$415m to pay down debt, while during the quarter, that the company also received a legal boost in its long-running pesticides court case.

Last week, a court in Florida ruled that a Nicaraguan judgment against Dole could not be enforced. The Nicaraguan court had ruled that Dole had misused pesticides in the Central American country.

"We are extremely pleased with the significant positive developments for our company, including improvements in our operations, substantial reduction in debt and another significant legal victory," said CEO David DeLorenzo.

He added: "Cash flow from operations, asset sales and the IPO have allowed Dole to reduce net debt by over $880m or 36% over the past six quarters."

During the third quarter, Dole sold one box manufacturing plant in Latin America. Following the close of the quarter, three more box plants were sold. The company hopes to have raised around $100m from the disposals, proceeds that will be used to pay down debt.