Los Angeles Business Journal

Smaller Dole Loss Still Disappoints

By Deborah Crowe Originally published November 18, 2011 at 10:20 a.m., updated November 18, 2011 at 3:21 p.m.

Shares Dole Food Co. fell 9 percent on Friday morning after the world’s largest fresh fruit and vegetable producer reported a third-quarter loss that, while smaller than last year, still missed Wall Street expectations.

The Westlake Village company late Thursday reported a net loss of $47 million (-54 cents per share), compared with a loss of $53 million (-61 cents per share) in the same period a year earlier. Revenue rose nearly 5 percent to $2.09 billion.

The loss when adjusted for refinancing charges and other items was 17 cents per share compared with a year-earlier profit of 4 cents. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters on average expected the company to report a per-share loss of 10 cents on revenue of $2.02 billion.

The company said slow growth in fresh vegetables sales and problems in its European markets hindered greater improvement in its bottom line.

“Given the positive results of the efficiency and cost measures we took last year, we are implementing additional restructuring initiatives focused on further improving our European profitability,” Chief Executive David DeLorenzo said in a statement, adding that lower iceberg lettuce pricing hurt revenue in multiple markets.

The company is continuing to sell non-core assets, including about 400 acres of Hawaii agricultural land for $10.4 million, and a ripening business in Spain, in which Dole owns a 40 percent interest, for about $21 million.

Shares on Friday closed down 91 cents, or 9 percent, to $9.33 on the New York Stock Exchange.