Dean, which also makes Horizon Organic dairy products, Silk soy milk and International Delight coffee creamers, reported a fourth-quarter loss of $20.7 million, or 11 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier profit of $50.3 million, or 27 cents a share. Excluding litigation-related charges and deferred tax asset write-downs, earnings fell to 15 cents a share from 32 cents a share.
In November, the company forecast earnings of 13 cents to 18 cents a share, well below Wall Street's average estimate at the time. Analysts ahead of Wednesday report on average had expected earnings per share of 14 cents.
Net sales rose 5.5% to $3.15 billion. Analysts expected $3.2 billion.
Gross margin fell to 24% from 26.8%.
The dairy segment, which is Dean Food's largest business and which primarily consists of conventional dairy operations, saw profit fall 30%, though sales rose 5% thanks to higher prices. Volume declined 5%, including a 3.2% drop in milk volume. The WhiteWave-Alpro segment, which includes ice cream and yogurt as well as organic products, reported sales rose 7% and earnings were up 14% on strong growth in its core brands.