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Del Monte Earnings Go Stale, Stock Sours

Fresh Del Monte Produce posts lower-than-expect first quarter profit, hurt by weather conditions, weak melon prices and strong U.S. dollar. The stock plummeted in afternoon trading.

Updated from 11:23 a.m. EDT.

Fruit and vegetable producer

Fresh Del Monte Produce


posted lower-than-expected first quarter profit, marred by weather conditions, weak melon prices and the strong U.S. dollar. The news sent shares tumbling 12% to $14.93 in afternoon trading.

The company earned $34.9 million for the quarter, or 55 cents a share, compared with $63.6 million, or $1.00 a share, a year earlier.

Excluding an impairment charge, it earned 56 cents a share. Analysts expected earnings of 84 cents.

Sales fell slightly to $879.7 million, from $894.9 million last year.

Severe weather in the banana- and pineapple-production areas in Costa Rica and in banana-production areas in Guatemala led to disruptions in operations, a significant decrease in fruit quality and higher production costs.

Worldwide banana pricing rose 7%, while melon pricing fell 19% hurt by an oversupply of melons in the market and the weak economy.

On Monday Jim Cramer said he was

bearish on the stock.


Chiquita Brands


will report its first-quarter earnings on Thursday.

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