US group Dean Foods saw rising sales at its dairy division boost full-year earnings for 2005.

The Dallas-based company today (8 February) posted a 7% increase in operating income to US$648m, on the back of a 5% rise in net sales to US$10.5bn.

However, rising energy costs during the company’s fourth-quarter weighed on the results. Dean Foods reported an 8% drop in quarterly net income to US$78m.

Fourth-quarter sales were buoyed by increased revenue from the company’s Dairy Group and WhiteWave Foods divisions.

Chairman and CEO Gregg Engles was upbeat about the company’s prospects going into 2006.

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“In light of the challenges caused by two major hurricanes and the resulting dislocation of energy and packaging costs, the Dairy Group and WhiteWave businesses both turned in solid performances in the fourth quarter and we are entering 2006 with positive momentum,” he said.

He added: “Consistent with our previous guidance for 2006, we are expecting consolidated net sales of approximately $10.5bn.”