DOLE FOOD COMPANY, INC. ANNOUNCES IMPROVED FIRST QUARTER EARNINGS
Westlake Village, CA - April 19, 2000
Dole Food Company, Inc. (NYSE: DOL) Wednesday reported first-quarter net income from ongoing operations improved 21% to $36 million, or 65 cents per share, as compared with $30 million, or 52 cents per share, for the first quarter of 1999. Cash flow from ongoing operations (EBITDA) in the first quarter of 2000 totaled $102 million compared with $89 million for the same quarter in 1999. Revenues totaled $1.2 billion for the first quarters of both 2000 and 1999.
During the first quarter of 1999, the company also received $12 million of insurance proceeds, net of rehabilitation expenses, related to damage from Hurricane Mitch, which occurred during the fourth quarter of 1998. Including these net insurance proceeds, the company reported net income of $38 million, or 65 cents per share, for the first quarter of 1999. The company has not received additional Hurricane Mitch-related insurance proceeds in 2000; consequently, the company's reported net income was equivalent to net income from ongoing operations during the first quarter of 2000.
Interest expense increased to $23 million for the first quarter of 2000 from $22 million for the first quarter of 1999 due to higher average debt levels primarily resulting from the repurchases of common stock during the third quarter of 1999.
Earnings have improved in the company's banana business largely as a result of ongoing cost-cutting activities initiated in 1999. The company's North American citrus business has recovered from the impact of a severe freeze in California, while the Honduran beverage business has continued recuperating from the extreme devastation inflicted by Hurricane Mitch. Both of these events occurred at the end of 1998 and negatively impacted net income from operations during 1999. Additionally, earnings in the company's fresh-cut salads business increased, as the company has enjoyed sustained market share growth in this expanding category. Earnings were lower in the company's fresh-cut flowers business primarily due to continued higher logistics and distribution costs.
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David H. Murdock, chairman and chief executive officer, commented: "I am encouraged by the ongoing improvements made by our businesses. The fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and processed foods segments all showed significant earnings gains ranging from approximately 30% to 50%. We look forward to future sustained growth, as these businesses continue to benefit from the realignment of their operations initiated in 1999, the completion of their recovery from devastating weather-related events in 1998 and improvements in customer demand."
Dole Food Company, with 1999 revenues of $5.1 billion, is the world's largest producer and marketer of high-quality fresh fruit, 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. 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.