Dole Food today [Thursday] announced that its fourth-quarter net income from continuing operations was US$4.1m, or 7 cents per share, compared with a net loss of US$18.2m, or 32 cents per share, for the fourth quarter of 2000, before a special item. This resulted in full year 2001 net income from continuing operations, before special items, of US$79.4m, or US$1.41 per share, which reflects an improvement in earnings per share of approximately 90% as compared to full year 2000 net income from continuing operations, before special items, of US$41.3m, or 74 cents per share.
On November 28, 2001, Dole divested of its Honduran Beverage operations. In connection with this divestiture, operating results of this business have been accounted for as a discontinued operation. Fourth-quarter net income from discontinued operations, before the net gain on sale of these operations of US$168.6m, was US$0.8m, or 1 cent per share, compared with net income of US$10.9m, or 19 cents per share, for the fourth quarter of 2000. Full year 2001 net income from discontinued operations, before the net gain on sale of these operations, was US$18.9m, or 34 cents per share as compared to full year 2000 net income from discontinued operations of US$31.6m, or 56 cents per share.
Combined net income from continuing and discontinued operations for the fourth quarter of 2001 was US$4.8m, or 8 cents per share as compared to a net loss of US$7.4m, or 13 cents per share for the fourth quarter of 2000, which excludes a minor portion of the gain on sale of the company’s citrus assets.
Excluding special charges and gains, combined net income from continuing and discontinued operations for 2001 was US$98.3m, or US$1.75 per share as compared to net income of US$72.9m, or US$1.30 per share for 2000.
For the fourth quarter of 2001, earnings before interest and taxes (“EBIT”) in the company’s fresh fruit segment increased due to the continuation of improved earnings in its banana operations largely as a result of significant cost-cutting activities, increased volumes and pricing in North America and favorable pricing in Europe. Improved local pricing for bananas in Asia was more than offset by the continued decline of the Yen to U.S. dollar exchange rate. Overall year-over-year quarterly earnings in the fresh vegetables segment were relatively flat, although within that segment, lower commodity pricing was offset by cost savings and continued growth in packaged salads revenues. EBIT in the processed foods segment continued to increase due to lower production costs achieved by the company’s Asian sourcing locations and sizeable growth (187%) in revenues of FRUIT BOWLS® and FRUIT-N-GEL BOWLS(TM), which were partially offset by marketing costs primarily associated with new product introductions. Earnings in the fresh-cut flowers segment were lower due to reduced sales volumes.
Revenue from continuing operations for the fourth quarter of 2001 totaled US$983m compared with revenue from continuing operations of US$1.0bn for the same quarter of last year. EBITDA from continuing operations in the fourth quarter of 2001 totaled US$40.2m compared with US$23.3m for the same quarter of 2000.
On a full year basis, revenue from continuing operations for 2001 was relatively flat at US$4.5bn as compared to 2000. EBITDA from continuing operations in 2001 totaled US$305.4m compared with US$266.1m for 2000.
Interest expense, after the necessary allocation to discontinued operations, decreased significantly to US$14.2m for the fourth quarter of 2001 from US$20.0m for the fourth quarter of 2000. Likewise, on a full year basis, interest expense, after the necessary allocation to discontinued operations, decreased significantly to US$70.7m for 2001 compared to US$90.5m for 2000. The decreases are due to lower average debt levels combined with lower interest rates.
Total full year net income which includes business reconfiguration charges (totaling US$132.7m, pre-tax) and the gains on disposition of the Honduran Beverage business and sale of certain marketable securities (totaling US$8.2m, pre-tax) was US$150.4m for 2001 versus US$67.7m for 2000, which included Hurricane Mitch net insurance proceeds, a business downsizing charge and a gain on sale of the company’s citrus assets. For the fourth quarter of 2001, total net income, including the gain on disposal of the Honduran Beverage business was US$173.5m as compared to a net loss of US$6.5m in 2000, which included a minor portion of the gain on sale of the company’s citrus assets.
Looking forward to 2002, management anticipates that full year earnings per share should reflect significant improvement. Earnings in the banana business are expected to continue increasing in 2002 as a result of profit improvement initiatives currently underway. Dole’s fresh-cut salads business is projected to maintain its profitability in 2002, but overall earnings in the fresh vegetables segment are anticipated to be somewhat lower than 2001 based on expectations of a continued return to more normal commodity vegetables pricing. In Dole’s processed foods business, volume growth from additional new product introductions is anticipated to result in improved earnings. In Dole’s fresh-cut flowers segment, enhanced distribution activities are expected from the Miami based operations, which were recently relocated into a new, combined facility.
Lawrence A. Kern, president and chief operating officer, stated: “We are pleased to have achieved a substantial portion of our goal to divest of non-core assets through the successful disposition of our Honduran Beverage operations, allowing us to further focus on building our core activities. The operating performance of our primary businesses has greatly improved and we are hopeful that ongoing efficiency and savings programs as well as increased marketing efforts will result in better earnings from our fresh-cut flowers segment.”