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Fresh Del Monte 3Q net income nearly doubles

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) -- Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. said Tuesday its net income nearly doubled in the third quarter after it took control of the marketing, sales and distribution of its products in southern Europe.

The company said its banana sales fell 2 percent compared to a year ago because of weaker demand in Europe and secondary markets in the Middle East. Sales of other fresh produce also fell. However the company said its new marketing and distribution arrangement is more efficient and helped keep its costs down.

Fresh Del Monte said its net income rose to $23.5 million, or 40 cents per share, from $12.2 million, or 21 cents per share, one year ago. The company said it earned 45 cents per share excluding asset impairment charges and other special items. Revenue declined almost 1 percent, to $788.8 million from $795.2 million.

Fresh Del Monte said its North American revenue rose 5 percent to $420.2 million, but sales in Europe dropped 17 percent to $145.5 million and Middle Eastern revenue fell 8 percent to $105.6 million. Revenue from Asia declined slightly and revenue from other markets more than doubled to $26.3 million.