Calavo Growers 4Q Profit Falls, Sales Drop

SANTA PAULA, Calif. (AP) ¿ Calavo Growers Inc. said Monday that its fiscal fourth-quarter profit fell, hurt by a significantly smaller cyclical crop of avocados from California.

The marketer of fresh avocados and maker of processed avocado products earned $2.3 million, or 16 cents per share, for the three months ended Oct. 31. That's down 43 percent from $4 million, or 28 cents per share, a year ago.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, whose estimates generally exclude one-time items, predicted a higher profit of 23 cents per share.

Sales dropped 14 percent to $80.9 million from $93.6 million.

Chairman, President and CEO Lee Cole said in a statement that Calavo benefited from a bigger fruit supply from Mexico that helped to somewhat offset the lower crop yield from California.

For the year, profit surged 77 percent to $13.6 million, or 94 cents per share, from $7.7 million, or 53 cents per share.

Annual sales declined 5 percent to $344.8 million from $361.5 million.

Gross margin climbed 34 percent to $44.5 million due to reduced avocado costs.

The company said its strong performance during the year allowed it to lower its long-term debt to $13.9 million from $25.4 million.

Shares of Calavo Growers shed $1.27, or 7.5 percent, to $15.73 in morning trading. Over the past year, the stock has traded in a range of $10.50 to $22.08.

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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