US fresh produce company Fresh Del Monte has reported lower quarterly net income, due to a one-time gain in the year-ago period.

The company posted net income of US$22.8m, or 40 cents per diluted share, for the fourth quarter to 26 December, compared with $35.2m, or 62 cents per diluted share, in the year-ago period. The fall in earnings was attributed to a large one-time gain recorded in the fourth quarter of 2002.

Net sales for the fourth quarter of 2003 were $578.7m, compared with $487.4m for the same period last year. The 19% increase in net sales was a result of growth across all major product lines, the company said.

“We increased sales to key customers, diversified our product line and completed three acquisitions (during 2003). These accomplishments make us well-positioned as we implement our growth initiatives in 2004,” said Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh, chairman and CEO of Fresh Del Monte.