California-based Limoneira Co. (LMNR) has reported a fiscal first-quarter loss of US$4.7 million, after reporting a profit in the same period a year earlier.
Agribusiness revenue for the period ended Jan. 31 was US$40.8 million, compared to $30.3 million in the first quarter last fiscal year, primarily due to stronger lemon sales.
The agribusiness revenue includes US$38.6 million in lemon sales compared to US$27.8 million of lemon sales in the same period last year, with the increase primarily the result of higher volume partially offset by lower prices of fresh lemons sold.
The lower pricing was due to cold weather affecting dining habits in certain areas of the U.S. and cheaper foreign fruit entering the market for the first quarter, the company said.
Approximately 1,272,000 cartons of fresh lemons were sold during the first quarter at a US$24.30 average price per carton compared to 912,000 cartons sold at a US$26.32 average price per carton during the same quarter last year.
"Our topline growth was primarily due to a 39% increase in lemon sales, partially offset by weaker lemon pricing due to colder weather in the U.S. during the last month of the quarter and lower orange pricing in the quarter," said Harold Edwards, president and CEO. "Our business is best viewed on an annual basis, which is why despite the lower pricing environment, we believe the underlying fundamentals of the business are strong and remain confident we will achieve our full year 2019 guidance.
"As we continue to expand and solidify our place as a global supplier of fresh citrus, through organic growth and acquisitions such as our recent joint venture and land acquisition in Argentina, we will continue to reduce the seasonal nature of our business."
Alex Teague, senior vice president, added: "We are very excited to start off the first half of this year with a strategic move into Argentina, as we continue to look for ways to access new markets and networks to increase our production and distribution as part of our One World of Citrus initiative.
"This expansion of our global footprint into Argentina strengthens our ability to become a 365-day, 24/7 global supplier of fresh citrus to our valued customers around the world. In addition, we are pleased with the successful integration of our two acquisitions last year and are seeing great grower retention from the Oxnard Lemon acquisition and increased production capabilities."