Bad weather puts chill on Chiquita's 1Q results

Tough winter in North America, drought conditions in Central America pressure Chiquita's 1Q

Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Banana seller Chiquita Brands moved to a loss in its first quarter, saying that bad weather hurt supply and demand for its products.

Supply shortfalls meant that Chiquita had to buy expensive fruit to fill its contractual obligations to customers, said CEO Ed Lonergan in a statement on Friday. He blamed bad winter weather in North America and drought conditions in Central America for the disruptions.

The company said bad winter weather also hurt its salads and health snacks business.

But he said that Chiquita's plans to combine with Ireland's Fyffes, a banana importer, in a $1.07 billion stock deal should help the business deal better with weather risks and banana supply volatility.

The deal is targeted to close by the end of the year, and the new company will be called ChiquitaFyffes.

Shares of Chiquita Brands International Inc. dropped 35 cents, or 3.2 percent, to $10.77 in morning trading.

For the period ended March 31, fruit and vegetable distributor Chiquita lost $25 million, or 53 cents per share. A year earlier it earned $2 million, or 5 cents per share.

Revenue for the Charlotte, North Carolina-based company slipped 2 percent, to $762 million from $774 million.

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