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Chiquita in Q2 Loss

(Reuters) - Chiquita Brands International Inc., the No. 1 banana producer, on Tuesday reported a second-quarter loss due to weak European currencies, higher production costs and lower canned vegetable prices.

Weakness in European currencies most impacted Chiquita's fresh produce business, where the company reported strong banana prices in local currency and higher sales volume in core European markets, the company said.

If the euro stays relatively stable, foreign currency translation will have less impact in year-over-year comparisons for second-half operating results than it did in the first half, Chiquita said.

Chiquita, which is restructuring its debt, reported a net loss of $11 million, or 19 cents a share, including 3 cents per share of restructuring costs, compared with net income of $12.8 million, or 13 cents a share, including an extraordinary gain of 3 cents a share, a year ago.

Net sales fell to $595.4 million from $601.5 million a year ago, but rose slightly when excluding the impact of divestitures from the prior year.

Lower prices for canned vegetables weighed on operating results for Chiquita's processed foods business. The company said it lowered the prices to reduce inventory.

Chiquita expects to benefit from a U.S.-European Union agreement in April that ended an eight-year dispute over banana pricing, which the company says cost it an estimated $1.5 billion.

Shares of Chiquita declined 6 cents, or 4.26 percent, to $1.35 Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange. Except for a short-term bounce to $3.38 in January, the shares have ranged from 94 cents to $2.07 since the start of the year.
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