Improved operating results in Dean Foods' dairy and specialty-foods business offset weaker margins in minor businesses to leave Q2 earnings up 14%.

The largest US dairy distributor reported net profits worth US$83.8m, up from $73.2m in the same period of last year. This includes a charge of $1.9m for the closure of an ice cream plant in Hawaii, while the 2002 period included $3.3 million in restructuring charges and a small loss related to a discontinued business in Puerto Rico.

Sales edged down 3.2% to $2.22bn from nearly $2.3bn, although this was largely attributed to lower raw material costs resulting in lower sale prices.