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Wednesday, April 19, 2000

Dole cost-cutting
helps turnaround

Its net drops 3.4 percent
but business is improving

By Russ Lynch


Dole Food Co. today reported a first-quarter net profit of $36.4 million, down 3.4 percent from $37.7 million in the year-earlier quarter, with per-share earnings unchanged at 65 cents.

Dole Foods Co. However, the year-earlier quarter had a one-time gain of $12 million from a Hurricane Mitch insurance payment. Without counting that, Dole's profit from ongoing operations in the 1999 quarter was $30.1 million, or 52 cents a share.

That brought this year's first-quarter net from operations up 20.9 percent from last year's. Dole met its own expectations, announced late last month, for significant improvement in first-quarter operating income, saying cost-cutting in its banana business has worked and its California citrus business has recovered from a freeze.

The company also made more money from its fresh-cut salad business as it expanded its market share but had lower earnings from fresh-cut flowers.

Art Shares of Dole closed down $1.31 to $18.25 today on the New York Stock Exchange.

First-quarter revenues were $1.16 billion, down 2.5 percent from the year-earlier quarter's $1.19 billion, which included the insurance payment from hurricane damage to Dole's Central American crops.

"I am encouraged by the ongoing improvements made by our businesses," said David H. Murdock, Dole board chairman and CEO. "The fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and processed-foods segments all showed significant gains ranging from approximately 30 percent to 50 percent."

Founded in Hawaii in the mid-1800s, Dole is now based in Westlake Village, Calif., and is the world's largest producer, packer and shipper of fresh fruits and vegetables. It still has substantial land and agricultural operations in Hawaii, where it owns 122,000 acres.

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