California-based avocado company Calavo Growers has has reported a net loss for the first quarter of 2005, ended 31 January 2005, of $1.5 m on revenues of $47.7m.

In the same period a year earlier Calavo lost $294,000 on net sales of $49.0m. Sales this year were limited by the smaller volume of California fruit due to severe winter storms and an unanticipated surge in seasonal imports from Chile during the period. R

"While the fiscal first quarter is historically our smallest, the results in the most recent period fall well beneath our expectations," said Calavo chairman, president and CEO Lee E. Cole. "Near-record rainfall that buffeted California in December and January significantly impacted the early avocado harvest and resulted in a 20-plus percent drop in segment sales year-over-year. In concert with the sharp, unanticipated rise in first-quarter fruit imports from Chile, which exerted considerable pricing pressure, these two factors held down Calavo's revenue during the period."

"With the Chilean growing season over and the delivery of California avocados to our packinghouses beginning to gain speed, I am confident that the picture of our operating performance will look quite different in the fiscal second and third quarters, and we anticipate a return to solid profitability," he said.

In addition to the impact of lower sales, Cole said that the nearly $0.9m before-tax effect of a series of unique items accounts for the predominant portion of the difference in the company's bottom line from last year's first period. They include nearly $425,000 in unusual sales, general and administrative expenses. The company also incurred final expenses of $437,000 related to the closing of its former processed product manufacturing facility in Mexicali, Baja California Norte, Mexico.