• Best earnings improvement since the first quarter of 2000

  • Operating cash flow substantially increased $60 million year-over-year

  • Operating income increased $16 million quarter-over-quarter

Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. (NYSE: FDP) today reported strong financial results for the fourth quarter and full year ended December 29, 2000.


Fresh Del Monte reported net sales of $411.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2000 compared with $404.5 million in the fourth quarter of 1999. The Company’s net loss for the fourth quarter of 2000 was $8.5 million, or $0.16 per share. Pro forma net loss in the same period last year was $24.1 million, or $0.45 per share. The 1999 fourth quarter pro forma results exclude Hurricane Mitch insurance recoveries net of expenses of $0.10 per share.

Mr. Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh, Chairman and CEO of Fresh Del Monte, stated, “We are pleased to report that our fourth quarter results represent the best improvement since our record first quarter of 2000. We attribute this improvement to our excellent operating performance, stringent cost-saving disciplines and strong pricing of deciduous fruit and melons. In addition, favorable developments in linerboard prices, bunker fuel costs, banana pricing in Europe and North America, and foreign currency exchange late in the year had a positive impact on our quarterly results.”

On a full year basis, net sales for 2000 were approximately $1.9 billion compared with approximately $1.7 billion for the same period in 1999. Net income for 2000 was $33.1 million, or $0.62 per share. Pro forma net income in 1999 was $61.2 million, or $1.14 per share. Pro forma 1999 results exclude Hurricane Mitch expenses net of insurance recoveries of $0.08 per share. Full year results were negatively impacted by a global oversupply of bananas, substantially higher linerboard prices, bunker fuel costs and an unfavorable foreign currency rates. These challenges were counterbalanced by a $60 million increase in operating cash flow.

Operating income for the fourth quarter of 2000 was $1.0 million, compared with a loss of $14.7 million for the fourth quarter of 1999. Operating income for the year ended December 29, 2000 was $82.6 million, versus $84.5 million the previous year.

The Company’s net loss for the fourth quarter of 2000 was $8.5 million, compared with a net loss of $18.6 million for the same period the previous year. Net income for 2000 was $33.1 million, compared with $56.9 million the previous year.

“For 2001, we believe that if current industry trends continue the Company anticipates better results in the first six months of the year. As we seek to achieve this goal, we will adhere to our proven strategy and work to improve shareholder value,” Mr. Abu-Ghazaleh concluded.

The Company continues to wait along with the rest of the industry on a resolution to the banana debate in the European Union as to whether it will implement a “first-come, first-served” quota system or continue with the current license quota system. Assuming the European Union implements a “first-come, first-served” quota system on July 1, 2001, the Company will take a non-cash charge of approximately $16 million or $0.30 per share due to the elimination of the license quota system and receive a $0.06 per share benefit in the second half of 2001 and a $0.12 per share benefit in 2002 and 2003 as a result of the elimination of the amortization of licensing costs.

Fresh Del Monte is one of the world’s largest producers and marketers of fresh fruit, vegetables and other produce. The Company grows, distributes, transports and markets its fresh products in more than 50 countries worldwide.

Safe Harbor Statement: This release may discuss future performance of the Company. Comments about expectations, plans and prospects constitute forward-looking statements for purposes of the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act. Actual results may differ materially from those contemplated in any forward-looking statements, and the Company undertakes no obligation to update any such statements. Risk factors are identified in the Company’s December 31, 1999 Form 20-F on file at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

                Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. and Subsidiaries
Condensed Statements of Income
(U.S. dollars in millions, except per share data)

Quarter ended Year ended
December 29, December 31, December 29, December 31,
2000 1999 2000 1999
Unaudited

Net sales $411.2 $404.5 $1,859.3 $1,743.2

Gross profit (1) 25.4 5.3 166.9 150.6

Operating income
(loss) (1)
1.0 (14.7) 82.6 84.5

Net income
(loss) (1) (2) $(8.5) $(18.6) $33.1 $56.9

Basic and diluted per share
income (loss) (1) (2) $(0.16) $(0.35) $0.62 $1.06

Pro forma EPS (3) $ (0.16) $(0.45) $0.62 $1.14

Weighted average number
of ordinary shares
outstanding-
diluted 53,763,600 53,764,229 53,764,383 53,805,237

(1) The quarter and year ended December 31, 1999 includes $2.0 million and
$17.8 million, respectively, of increased costs in our Guatemalan
operations due to Hurricane Mitch.

(2) Net income (loss) for the quarter and year ended December 31, 1999
includes $7.5 million and $13.5 million, respectively, of insurance
recoveries related to Hurricane Mitch.

(3) Pro forma EPS for the quarter and year ended December 31, 1999
excludes Hurricane Mitch related costs and insurance recoveries.