Dole Food Company, Inc. (NYSE:DOL) Thursday announced that its third quarter results from ongoing operations will approximate last year’s third quarter and fall within an estimated range of $0.02 to $0.08 loss per share. The weak euro and the continued high prices for fuel oil have largely offset year-over-year cost savings in the Company’s banana business during the quarter. The Company’s other businesses continue to perform well, particularly its North American vegetable division, which is generating significantly stronger earnings as compared to the third quarter of 1999.

In addition, the Company announced that it has finalized an agreement to sell the majority of its California and Arizona citrus assets to Paramount Citrus Association (“Paramount”), a subsidiary of Roll International, for approximately $55 million. The Company will retain its ownership interest in selected agricultural properties that will be managed by Paramount. Dole will also continue its successful domestic and international citrus import and marketing programs. David H. Murdock, chairman and chief executive officer stated, “The divestiture of Dole’s citrus business follows the Company’s previously announced plans to divest itself of non-core assets or businesses.”

The expected non-recurring, pre-tax gain from the citrus transaction of between $8 million and $10 million coupled with the pre-tax earnings from the Hurricane Mitch insurance settlement of $53 million during the quarter will be partially offset by certain one-time, pre-tax charges. These charges will be taken to achieve further reductions of capacity in the Company’s banana operations as well as further downsizing activities in selected other operations.

Dole Food Company, Inc., with 1999 revenues of $5.1 billion, is the world’s largest producer and marketer of high-quality fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and fresh-cut flowers, and markets a growing line of packaged foods.

This release contains forward-looking statements based on current expectations that involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Forward-looking statements, which are based on management’s current expectations, are generally identifiable by the use of terms such as “expects,” “will,” and similar expressions. The potential risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied herein include weather-related phenomena; market responses to industry volume pressures; product and raw materials supplies and pricing; changes in interest and currency exchange rates; economic crises in developing countries; and quotas, tariffs and other governmental actions. Further information on the factors that could affect Dole’s financial results is included in its Securities and Exchange Commission filings, including its Annual Report on Form 10-K.