Profits up 174 percent at Alico Inc.

LaBelle-based Alico Inc., a grower and land manager, squeezed out more profits in its second quarter after seeing a rise in citrus sales.

The company operates on a fiscal year, with its second quarter ending March 31.

For that quarter, the company reported profits of $7.4 million, or $1.01 a share. That was up more than 174 percent from $2.7 million, or 37 cents a share, a year ago.

Meanwhile, the company's total operating revenue grew more than 48 percent to $54.1 million, up from $36.5 million last year.

Agricultural revenue in the quarter increased by nearly 50 percent to $53.4 million, up from $35.7 million a year ago.

Most of the company's revenues in the second quarter came from its citrus operations. Those revenues grew to $45.4 million, compared to $31.6 million last year.

The company produced more citrus, got an earlier start in harvesting its Valencias and saw an increase in its harvest and haul revenues. There was also better pricing for fruit.

Alico also saw its revenues from sugarcane sweeten in the second quarter. They rose more than 105 percent to $7.6 million, up from $3.7 million last year. The company harvested 4,000 additional acres and prices were higher.

On Feb. 17, Alico's board declared a cash dividend of 4 cents a share. It was paid out on April 16.

"Our second quarter results from citrus operations were exceptional," said JD Alexander, Alico's president and CEO, in a statement. "We finished harvesting our early and mid-season crop in the second quarter and, effective today, have substantially completed the harvest of our Valencia crop. We anticipate the overall citrus crop production of all varieties for the 2012 fiscal year to be approximately 13 percent greater than the prior year."

In comparison, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is forecasting that Florida's citrus production this season overall will be 3.3 percent higher than last year. This will be the second year in a row that Alico has exceeded the statewide increases, Alexander said.

"Over recent weeks, there has been a significant decline in the citrus and sugar commodity prices," he said. "These short-term commodity price fluctuations underscore the importance of our preference for multi-year delivery contracts."

The contracts have price protections, which lessen the blow of short-term price changes. "Because of these multi-year contracts and our improved production results, we continue to be confident about our future outlook," Alexander said.

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