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Profits look up for cranberry group

16-Jan-2004

Back from a plunge in revenues last year, US cranberry processor Northland Cranberries saw profits bounce back in the first quarter of 2004.

Coming in at $22.4 million (€17.8m), profits for the cranberry company rose by over 10 per cent from last year's first-quarter revenues of $21.7 million.

Hit by a cranberry glut and and severe price discounting by major competitors such as Ocean Spray, in July last year the company reported third quarter income of $1.2 million, compared to $1.9 million for the previous year's period.

At the time, John Swendrowski, Northland's chairman and chief executive officer, said that distribution gains achieved during the quarter, and debt reduction worth more than $14.0 million, were factors likely to boost the firm's performance in coming months.

Signs of improvements in the company's balance sheet were clear in November when it reported a net profit of $4 million in the fourth quarter ended 31 August, a significant improvement on a small loss registered in the same period of 2002 thanks to financial restructuring. Also implicated was the settlement of a court case with Cliffstar relating to the sale of Northland's private label juice business in 2000 that provided a chunk of cash.

The company will be looking to build on its upward curve in the following months. "We will continue to focus on profitably growing our business during fiscal 2004," concluded the CEO this week, without going into any details.

In March 2003 directors of the cranberry growers co-operative Ocean Spray rejected a rival bid from Northland to purchase its juice business and brand name for around $800 million.