July 19, 2024
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Limoneira’s losses mount as pandemic depresses citrus sales


Santa Paula-based agribusiness Limoneira saw its losses increase and its revenue drop in the fourth quarter of its most recent fiscal year, as low wholesale prices and declining sales during the pandemic took their toll.

Limoneira released its results Jan. 11 for the quarter and fiscal year ended Oct. 31, revealing a loss of 42 cents per share on revenue of $29.8 million, an 18% decrease in revenue from the same quarter a year ago.

Agribusiness revenue as a whole saw a 19% decrease as the company raked in $28.6 million in the fourth quarter of its 2020 fiscal year, compared to $35.3 million in the same quarter of 2019.

Nearly all categories of fruits sold by the company also declined between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the fourth quarter of 2020. Lemon revenue was down from $17 million to $13.3 million, and revenue from orange sales dropped from $2.1 million to $500,000.
Limoneira CEO Harold Edwards said during the company’s earnings call that the drop in citrus fruit sales was a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Fresh lemon and orange revenues were down due to food service closures, and lower export demand (in Asia), which resulted in lower average per carton prices,” Edwards said. “Even despite these challenges, we continue to be a leader in food service and exports and are well-positioned once dining out improves from COVID-19 vaccine distribution.”

The company made $500,000 in revenue from avocado sales, a drop from $2.3 million in the same quarter a year earlier. The year-over-year decrease in avocado revenue was due to receipt of crop insurance proceeds in the fourth quarter of 2019, a quarter in which the company had virtually no actual avocado sales.

In the fourth quarter of 2020, Limoneira sold around 500,000 pounds of avocados at around 99 cents per pound. In the third quarter, it had sold 6.1 million pounds of avocados at $1 per pound.

Limoneira sold around 787,000 cartons of fresh lemons during the fourth quarter of 2020, at an average price of $17 dollars per carton. The volume was similar in a year earlier, but the price in 2019 was $21.46 per carton.

“We are very well positioned to realize strong revenue from oranges and avocados, and expected improvement in lemon pricing,” Edwards said.

Limoneira closed the trading day on Jan. 11 at $17.11. The stock dropped 6.3% in after-hours trading once fourth quarter results were released.

For the entire fiscal year 2020, Limoneira recorded a new company high in domestic lemon volume, with 4.6 million cartons of fresh lemons.

Revenue for the year was down, however, at $164.6 million in 2020 compared to $171.4 million in 2019.

The company also saw operating losses of more than $19 million in 2020, compared to $5 million in 2019.

For the year, Limoneira saw a loss of 96 cents per share, up from a loss of 37 cents per share for 2019.