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5 Food Stocks to Whet Investor Appetite

5. Chiquita Brands (CQB) is an international marketer and distributor of high-quality fresh and value-added food products -- from energy-rich bananas and other fruits to nutritious blends of convenient green salads. The company markets its products under the Chiquita and Fresh Express premium brands and other related trademarks

For the first quarter of 2011, Chiquita Brands reported net income of $24 million with 52 cents earnings per share as compared to a loss of $9 million, or 20 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Overall sales increased by 2% to $824 million. Banana sales rose 13% to $539 million. Strong demand in the stable European markets improved the company's performance during the quarter.

For full year 2011, the company expects a 3% rise in net sales with continued significant profits on banana sales in its core markets. The company estimates capital expenditure to range between $70 and $75 million in 2011, compared to $66 million in 2010. The company also expects full-year operating profits to improve and thereby raise its overall profitability in full year 2011.

Chiquita Brands is focusing on strengthening its long-term competitive position in salads by building on consumer loyalty and preference for its branded products through innovations such as the Fresh Rinse food safety and quality technology. The company expects continued progress in its profitability in its joint venture with Danone, which should contribute further to enhanced income.

Of the five analysts covering the stock, 60% recommend a buy, whereas 40% rate a hold. The stock has no sell ratings. Analysts polled by Bloomberg expect the stock to gain 31.7% to $20 in value form current levels.

>>To see these stocks in action, visit the 5 Food Stocks to Whet Investor Appetite portfolio on Stockpickr.
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