Diamond Foods posted net sales of US$169.5m for its first quarter of 2006, compared to $178.1m for same period last year, due to a late walnut crop harvest.

The branded food company, which sells products under the Diamond, Emerald and Harmony brands, said that for the three months ended October 31, 2006, diluted earnings per share were $0.61 compared to $0.26 for the prior year period.

"The fiscal year is off to a strong start," said Michael Mendes, president and CEO. "Our sales were impacted in the first quarter by the previously announced late harvest of the 2006 walnut crop as well as other tree nut crops, which resulted in significant shipments being delayed until after 31 October 2006.

"The walnut crop was ten days later than last year and about two weeks later than the historical norm. These delayed shipments were in all channels, including retail, ingredient and international. Despite these delayed shipments, we are pleased with our earnings performance, particularly the improved gross margin, and have positioned ourselves to continue to invest in our snack products for the remainder of the year."

Advertising costs for the three months ended were $3.2m compared to $6.6m for the comparable prior year period.

The company maintained EPS guidance for the year of $0.50 to $0.55, to reflect total sales growth for the year of 5% to 8%.