Del Monte Foods Co., the largest distributor of branded fruit, on August 2 said its fiscal Q4 earnings rose 37 per cent on an adjusted basis, helped by recent acquisitions, though it reported a net loss, reports Reuters. Del Monte said it earned $18.1m on an adjusted basis in the fourth quarter ended June 30, compared with $13.2m one year ago. The company reported a net loss for the quarter of $11.8m including $26.2m of expenses related to a debt refinancing in May, compared with net income of $89.7m a year ago that included a $67.7m income tax credit. Net sales rose 22 per cent to $389.6m in the quarter from $319.7m a year ago. The company also said that FY2002 earnings would be pressured by increased marketing investment, energy expenses and other operating costs, offset partly by price increases and reduced interest expenses. Del Monte said it expects adjusted earnings per share of 83 to 87 cents for fiscal 2002 as it increases marketing investments in existing and new products. For all of fiscal 2001, Del Monte reported adjusted earnings of $50.1m on sales of $1.51bn, compared with fiscal 2000 adjusted earnings of $53.7m on sales of $1.46bn. The net profit for fiscal 2001, after unusual items, fell to $13.8m, or 26 cents per share, from $128.7m, or $2.42 per share, a year ago. "Consistent with overall industry trends, our retailers continued to reduce their inventory levels while consumption of Del Monte products in the market remained strong," chief executive Richard Wolford said in a statement. However, the top line rose due mainly to the acquisitions of S&W and Sunfresh, Wolford said. Del Monte also reduced inventory in lower margin products to non-retail outlets, he said.