US dairy Dean Foods, formerly Suiza Foods, has posted fourth-quarter income of $63.1m, compared with $23.7m a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, Dean posted income of 74 cents per share, meeting analysts’ average earnings-per-share forecast.

One-time items included a pre-tax restructuring charge of $7.6m, as well as an $8.2m after-tax loss related to the sale of Dean’s Puerto Rican operations and a $10m charge to record losses generated by Consolidated Container Corp, in which Dean holds a minority interest. Dean also received an income tax benefit of $6.6m after settling an issue with the Internal Revenue Service.

Dean’s net sales rose 39% to $2.2bn.

Sales at Dean’s Dairy Group, which accounts for around 77% of the company’s revenue, rose 29%, helped by synergies from the acquisition as well as lower raw milk costs.

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Dean Foods, which is currently transforming itself from a traditional dairy into a branded products business, said it invested $130m in 2002 in strategic brands like International Delight coffee creamers, Silk soy milk and Hershey’s flavoured milks. Dean said it expects to spend about $190m on the brands in 2003, reported Reuters.