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Chiquita Q1 Earnings Plunge 88 Pct

April 24, 2001

CINCINNATI (AP) _ First quarter earnings at fruit company Chiquita Brands International Inc. plunged 88 percent, primarily due to a stronger dollar against major European currencies.

The company said Tuesday it earned $4.1 million for the three months ended March 31, or 1 cent per share, compared with $35 million, or 43 cents per share, a year ago.

Sales fell by 4 percent to $577.3 million from $658.1 million in the year-ago period.

Chiquita said the effect of lower banana pricing in North America and Japan was partially offset by improved pricing in Europe. Operating results for the company’s processed foods business declined from the prior year because of lower pricing for canned vegetables.

Chiquita stock was trading at $1.45 in trading Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange, down 9 cents.

On April 11, the United States and European Commission announced a resolution of their dispute over European restrictions on banana imports. U.S. officials and Chiquita management argued that the limits unfairly penalized Chiquita and other banana exporters.

Chiquita officials said they welcome the agreement, but still plan to proceed with efforts to restructure debt as the company tries to recover from years of losses it attributes to the European import quotas.

Cincinnati-based Chiquita produces and distributes fresh fruits, vegetables and processed foods.

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