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BRIEFLY / FOOD

Dean Foods Hires Firm to Explore Alternatives

March 10, 2001|Bloomberg News

Dean Foods Co. said it hired an investment banker to explore strategic options, including a possible sale of the company, as it warned of lower-than-forecast profit for the latest quarter. The nation's second-largest dairy producer said its earnings are being hurt by lower-than-expected milk sales, particularly in the West, and higher fuel, raw milk and butterfat costs. Other food makers in recent weeks have blamed rising energy costs for less-than-expected profit. Even so, analysts say Dean Foods has disappointed on earnings for at least a year and needs to revive sluggish milk sales. The company said it expects earnings of between 45 cents and 47 cents a share in its fiscal third quarter, down from 67 cents a year ago. Analysts on average expected 65 cents, according to First Call/Thomson Financial. Shares of Franklin Park, Ill.-based Dean Foods jumped $5.50 to close at $38.50 on the NYSE.

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