Dean Foods profit beats, gives cautious FY12 outlook

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Dean Foods Co posted an adjusted quarterly profit that beat Wall Street analysts' expectations, as the top U.S. dairy company controlled costs, and gave a cautious full-year profit outlook.

Shares of the company, which have risen about 38 percent since its year low of $7.83 in September, rose 11 percent in early trade on Wednesday.

The seller of Horizon Organic milk and Land O'Lakes creamers forecast first-quarter and full-year profit largely above analyst estimates.

"Our biggest concerns are continued fluid milk category weakness and industry pricing pressures," Chief Executive Gregg Engles said in a statement.

However, the company also said it expects raw milk costs to be flat for the current year.

Dean Foods has been cutting costs since 2009 and raising prices on it products to battle higher costs of butterfat, fuel and other items.

For the latest fourth quarter, net loss attributable to the company was $9.9 million, or 5 cents a share, compared with a loss of $20.7 million, or 11 cents a share, last year.

On an adjusted basis, it earned 27 cents a share.

Revenue rose about 5 percent to $3.30 billion.

Analysts on an average had expected the company to earn 23 cents a share, on revenue of $3.34 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Dean Foods shares rose 11 percent to $11.92 on the New York Stock Exchange in morning trade. (Reporting by Arpita Mukherjee in Bangalore; Editing by Roshni Menon and Gopakumar Warrier)

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