Chiquita expects 2012 finances to dip

Chiquita expects 2012 finances to dip

Chiquita expects 2012 finances to dip

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by ELY PORTILLO / The Charlotte Observer

WCNC.com

Posted on January 29, 2013 at 12:28 AM

Updated Monday, Nov 4 at 4:34 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Charlotte-based Chiquita Brands International reported Monday that it expects lower financial results for the fourth quarter and 2012, as the company took a big one-time charge and absorbed costs stemming from its business restructuring.

The company reported preliminary, selected financial results Monday, tied to its offer of $425 million in new notes as the company works to refinance its debts. Chiquita said its 2012 sales were flat compared to 2011, coming in at $3.1 billion.

Chiquita told investors it expects a full-year operating loss of between $236 and $281 million, compared with an operating profit of $34 million for 2011.

Much of the anticipated loss is due to a noncash impairment charge of $170 million to $205 million Chiquita thinks it will take to account for worse results at its Fresh Express bagged salad business. The company said lower salad sales were partly to blame for the charge.

The company announced a widespread restructuring plan last year, as it seeks to burnish its core banana and salad businesses and get away from unprofitable plans to diversify Chiquita’s product offerings. New CEO Ed Lonergan was brought in as a turnaround specialist to improve the company’s performance.

The restructuring plan is intended to reduce annual costs by $60 million a year. Chiquita has cut about 310 jobs – including 15 at its new uptown headquarters – in an attempt to reduce annual expenses. The company also has said it is sharply cutting its research and development budget and has begun selling lower-cost private label salad in addition to its premium Fresh Express salad.

On Monday, investors pushed the company’s stock higher on the news, with shares of Chiquita trading up nearly 5 percent by early afternoon. Chiquita will release its complete fourth-quarter and full-year results in the coming weeks.

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