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Chiquita announced its third quarter results on Thursday, posting a net loss of US$5.6m, compared with a US$28.2m loss in the same period last year.

The better results have been led by growth in the company’s banana sales, which rose 13 per cent over the quarter.

Salads and healthy snacks just held their weight with 2 per cent growth. That area of business is Chiquita’s second largest.

Total sales grew 7 per cent year-on-year to US$850m.

“Our operating results improved over last year,” said CEO Fernando Aguirre. “Our pricing discipline and focus on profitability has improved the year-on-year performance of our banana segment for the fifth consecutive quarter, which more than offset lower results in our salad operations.

“We are making progress on all the elements of our profit improvement plans for salads, including permanent contract pricing and fuel related surcharges, to deliver better margins over time,” he said.

“Looking ahead, we continue to expect to achieve significantly better operating results for the full year versus 2007.”

A number of sales and expenditures muddied the financial waters, like the sale of Atlanta AG and the repurchasing of US$91m in senior notes.

The company plans to relocate its European headquarters to Rolle in Switzerland, with an estimated cost of US$15-US$25m.

The company’s shares fell 29 per cent this year, closing at US$13.51 on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday – up 3.29 per cent on the announcement of the quarterly results.