Limoneira Co., a Santa Paula-based lemon grower and land developer, reported a wider first-quarter loss on March 12 despite higher revenue.
Limoneira lost $3.1 million in the first quarter of 2013, compared to a $2.8 million loss a year earlier. The company pinned the wider loss on lower lemon prices and the seasonality of its avocado harvest. Its expenses were also higher.
The Santa Paula company’s first-quarter revenue was $17.4 million, compared to $10.2 million in the first quarter of 2012. Its agribusiness revenue jumped 77 percent to $16.3 million, while revenue from its rental operations was essentially flat at $1 million. Real estate development revenue was $48,000, compared to $44,000 in the first quarter of 2012.
First-quarter agribusiness revenue includes $14 million in lemon sales, compared to $7.8 million a year earlier and reflecting a larger number of cartons of fresh lemons sold, partially offset by lower average price per carton, Limoneira said.
“Our first quarter results represent a solid start to fiscal 2013,” Limoneira CEO and President Harold Edwards said in an earnings release. “While our results reflect the expected soft seasonality of business in the first quarter, we posted a strong increase in our agribusiness revenue, driven by higher lemon and other citrus sales. We continue to expect to achieve our previously stated guidance of 25 percent year-over-year increase in cartons of lemons sold and a 50 percent year-over-year increase in pounds of avocados sold for the full year fiscal 2013.”
Limoneira said it expects lemon and avocado prices to be lower this year as a result of increased supply.
Fluctuations in avocado harvesting times meant that Limoneira didn’t generate any significant avocado sales in the first quarter, compared to $124,000 in sales of the fruit in the first three months of 2012. But revenue from oranges almost tripled to $1.4 million due to production from Sheldon Ranch. Specialty citrus and other crop revenues were $883,000 in the first quarter of fiscal year 2013, which was $72,000 more than in the first quarter of 2012.
Edwards suggested that Limoneira may start relying more on revenue from its real estate development projects, including East Area I, its planned 1,500-home community in Ventura County that was recently annexed into Santa Paula. “Following the annexation of East Area I into Santa Paula last month, we are now able to proceed with our master planned community project. We have already begun tract mapping development, and we are on-plan to break ground in 2014,” Edwards said.
The company also completed a common stock offering earlier this year that raised about $38.3 million. “This offering provides us with additional financial flexibility to make strategic investments and acquisitions to grow our business and with the additional shares issued, we expect this public offering will improve the liquidity of our stock,” Edwards said.
Limoneira shares were down 3.3 percent to $19.07 after the markets closed on March 12.[wikichart align=”center” ticker=”LMNR” showannotations=”true” livequote=”true” rollingdate=”6 months” width=”390″ height=”245″]