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Dean Foods Co. announces earnings forecast for 2002

SHARE Dean Foods Co. announces earnings forecast for 2002

Dean Foods Co., which recently merged with Suiza Foods Corp., said Thursday that it expects cash earnings per share to be between $5.20 and $5.25 for the year 2002.

Suiza last month completed its $2.8 billion acquisition of Dean Foods, although the combined company is known as Dean Foods.

Dean Foods said Thursday that the merger created a $10 billion food company with manufacturing and "distribution capabilities unparalleled in the industry." The company operates 129 plants and about 6,000 direct-store-delivery routes, servicing more than 150,000 customers nationwide. It has more than 30,000 employees.

The company said it "expects to deliver $60 million in synergies from the (merger) transaction in 2002, rising to approximately $120 million annually by the end of 2004."

Beyond 2002, the company said, it expects cash earnings per share will grow 8 percent to 10 percent per year over the next several years.

As part of the merger, Suiza agreed to repurchase a stake in its dairy unit held by Dairy Farmers of America Inc. and sell 11 plants in eight states, including Utah, to National Dairy Holdings LP to allay government concerns that the combined company would control too much of retail and school-milk sales in those areas.

National Dairy Holdings is a new partnership half-owned by Dairy Farmers of America. Suiza exchanged the 11 dairies, $145 million in cash and a $40 million contingent note to repurchase the 33 percent stake in Suiza Dairy Group that Dairy Farmers held.