May 9, 2013 / 12:21 PM / in 5 years

Dean Foods first-quarter profit jumps on Morningstar sale

(Reuters) - Top U.S. dairy company Dean Foods Co (DF.N), the maker of Meadow Gold milk and Silk soymilk, reported a better-than-expected first quarter, sending its shares up 2 percent, while asset sales sent its net profit soaring.

Dean Foods sold Morningstar, which sells coffee creamers, ice cream mixes and other dairy products, to Canadian dairy products maker Saputo Inc (SAP.TO) in January.

The company forecast an adjusted profit of 11 to 15 cents per share for the current quarter, excluding WhiteWave Foods.

It last week sold part of its stake in WhiteWave, which processors Land O Lakes milk, to its shareholders.

Dean Foods’ net profit jumped to $492.6 million, or $2.63 per share, for the quarter ended March 31, from $37.9 million, or 20 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, Dean Foods earned 29 cents per share from flat revenue of $2.89 billion.

    That topped the average expectation from analysts for earnings of 27 cents per share, on revenue of $2.98 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

    Dallas, Texas-based Dean’s shares traded premarket at $19.35, up from a close of $19 on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

    The company warned about lower-than-average milk volumes in 2013 in February. It said unadjusted fluid milk volumes declined 4.1 percent in the quarter from a year earlier.

    (Reporting by Arpita Mukherjee in Bangalore; Editing by Joyjeet Das and Rodney Joyce)

    This story was refiled to correct analysts' estimates to $0.27/shr from $29/shr, and remove extraneous word "cents" in paragraph 5.

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