Analyst: Dole set to compete better

For fresh produce marketing in Australia and New Zealand
Mike Knowles



Analyst: Dole set to compete better

Prominent investor runs rule over Dole Food Company's future prospects once proposed deal with Itochu Corporation is closed

Analyst: Dole set to compete better

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Dole Food Company's planned US$1.7bn sale of its packaged foods and Asian fresh fruit businesses to Japanese group Itochu Corporation is likely to help it compete better with rival multinational fruit suppliers in key markets and open up new opportunities to expand in other areas.

That's the view of Jason Rivera, a prominent investment commentator who follows the share dealings of leading fruit marketers including Dole, Fresh Del Monte and Chiquita as well as managing a number of stock portfolios containing shares in those and other companies.

Writing on the Seeking Alpha website, Rivera argued that Dole's proposed divestments in Asia would give it more flexibility and financial security.

"New Dole looks to be massively undervalued," he commented, observing that the group still held "very good" high-value assets, especially saleable land.

He continued: "It should be able to compete better with Fresh Del Monte and Chiquita, and New Dole will now be freed up to make acquisitions and improvements to its business and operations after the transaction with Itochu closes as it will not be burdened by the massive amount of debt that it has carried for years."

The fact that Dole will retain ownership of substantial assets – including land in places including Hawaii, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Honduras, plus a number of ships – after the Itochu deal is completed seemed to offer a solid foundation for future growth, Rivera intimated.

"Even if you do not count any of its operations at all, Dole `stock` as a whole is selling now for less than just a conservative value of the land, ship, and containers that it owns," he noted.

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