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VENTURA COUNTY BUSINESS | VENTURA COUNTY EARNINGS

Dole Posts Higher Profits From Ongoing Operations

May 02, 2000

Dole Food Co. Inc. in Westlake Village said its first-quarter profit from ongoing operations improved 21% to $36 million, equal to 65 cents per share, compared to net income of $30 million, or 52 cents, for the 1999 first quarter.

Quarterly revenues were unchanged, with Dole receiving $1.2 billion in the first quarters of both 2000 and 1999.

Company officials said earnings have improved in the banana business largely because of ongoing cost-cutting activities initiated in 1999. Also, the company's North American citrus business has recovered from a severe freeze in California, and its Honduran beverage business has continued recuperating from the devastation inflicted by Hurricane Mitch.

Both the freeze and the hurricane in late 1998 hurt profits last year, officials said.

Earnings in the company's fresh-cut salads business increased, while its fresh-cut flowers operations posted lower earnings, primarily because of higher logistics and distribution costs.

"The fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and processed foods segments all showed significant earnings gains ranging from approximately 30% to 50%," said David H. Murdock, chairman and chief executive.

Dole is the world's largest producer and marketer of fresh fruit, vegetables and fresh-cut flowers, and it markets a growing line of packaged foods.

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