Dean Foods Company (NYSE: DF) today announced its first quarter earnings and an enhancement to its business unit structure to further the Company's strategy to focus on high margin value-added branded products.First quarter sales increased 5.3% to a record $1,054.3 million, compared to $1,001.3 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2000. Earnings per share increased 5.7% to a record 74 cents per diluted share, versus 70 cents per diluted share last year. Net income was $26.4 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2001 compared to $27.8 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2000, as improved operating results were offset by higher interest expense to finance acquisitions in a consolidating industry."Our first quarter earnings were driven by improved operating results in our Dairy and Specialty Foods divisions," stated Howard Dean, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "Operating earnings in the newly formed National Refrigerated Products Division, formed by combining Dean's national branded products from our former Dairy and Specialty segments, reflect investment of approximately $6 million for launches of new products during the first quarter."Dean Foods' first quarter results included the following highlights: