DOLE FOOD COMPANY, INC. ISSUES FIRST QUARTER 2000 EARNINGS EXPECTATIONS AND ANNOUNCES CONCLUSION OF GOLDMAN, SACHS & CO. ENGAGEMENT
Westlake Village, CA - March 29, 2000
Dole Food Company, Inc. (NYSE: DOL) Wednesday announced that management anticipates earnings for the first quarter of 2000 will exceed analysts' consensus expectations and will fall within a range of $0.60 to $0.65 per share.
Earnings have been improving in the company's banana business as a result of ongoing cost-cutting activities initiated in 1999. The company's North American citrus business has continued its recovery from the impact of a severe freeze in California, while the Honduran brewery and soft drink businesses have continued recuperating from the extreme devastation inflicted by Hurricane Mitch. Both of these events occurred at the end of 1998 and negatively impacted net income from operations during 1999.
Looking forward, the company anticipates continued improved earnings from the streamlining of its banana business. Further, Dole has started shipping its new sweet, yellow pineapple variety, which has been well received by its retail customers, with continuing volume increases expected over the next few months and years.
The company also stated that Goldman, Sachs & Co. has completed its engagement to explore strategic alternatives available to the company to enhance shareholder value. As a result of this engagement, the Board of Directors has concluded that a complete sale of the company at this time would not result in its shareholders receiving the full intrinsic value of the company's businesses.
In connection with the exploration of strategic alternatives, the company held discussions with various parties, including San Miguel Corporation, concerning potential business combinations. No agreements concerning any such business combinations were reached, and all related discussions were terminated, including those with San Miguel Corporation. In its normal course of business, the company will continue to pursue valuation enhancement initiatives, including strategic acquisitions and dispositions.
The company is considering the sale of its profitable Honduran brewery and soft drink operations, as well as certain other non-core assets and substantially under-performing businesses, which will enable debt reduction and enhancement of the company's balance sheet.
Dole Food Company, with 1999 revenues of $5.1 billion, is the world's largest producer and marketer of high-quality fresh fruit, vegetables and fresh-cut flowers, and markets a growing line of packaged foods.
This release contains forward-looking statements based on current expectations that involve a number of risks and uncertainties. The potential risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied herein include weather-related phenomena; market responses to industry volume pressures; product and raw materials supplies and pricing; changes in interest and currency exchange rates; economic crises in developing countries; and quotas, tariffs and other governmental actions. Further information on the factors that could affect Dole's financial results is included in its Securities and Exchange Commission filings, including its Annual Report on Form 10-K.