FDP posts loss and stock heads south

Fresh Del Monte is down over 1.50 (more than 7%) on lower than expected earnings. FDP reported a fourth-quarter loss of $3.5 million, or 6 cents a share, down from a year-ago profit of $19.1 million, or 33 cents a share. On an adjusted basis, excluding charges from asset impairment and restructuring activities, the Coral Gables, Fla., produce distributor lost 2 cents a share in the latest quarter. Sales fell in the latest three months to $757.9 million from $818.2 million in the same period a year earlier.

The company blames lower banana pricing and increased competition in Asian markets, weak sales of gold pineapples during the holidays, and increased competition in the U.K. prepared food business. The average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson First Call was for a profit of a penny per share in the December period on sales of $849.8 million.

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