(Jan. 13, 12:15 p.m.) Financial news for Santa Paula, Calif.-based Calavo Growers Inc. couldn’t have been much better in its fourth-quarter earnings report.

Fourth-quarter net income surged 235%, marking the company’s highest-ever single quarter total and a 10% expansion in revenues, according to a release.

For the three months ending Oct. 31, net income increased to $4 million compared with $1.2 million during the corresponding period last year. Final-period 2008 revenues totaled $93.6 million, compared with $85.3 million in net sales in last year’s fourth quarter.

“It’s basically what we expected,” said Lee Cole, Calavo’s chairman, president and chief executive officer. “It’s what our projections were.”

Cole attributed the record earnings to the company’s recently implemented strategy of diversifying its product line to include tomatoes, papayas, mushrooms and pineapples, along with Calavo’s well-recognized brand of avocados.

“We should’ve diversified long ago,” Cole said. “We’re growing in the avocado business as well. The last couple years, we had freezes which interrupted supply. Now, we have avocados coming in from Chile, Mexico and New Zealand.

“Mexico will more than make up for (what’s expected to be a small crop this year in California).”

Cole said he doesn’t expect Calavo’s growth to be slowed by an ever-tightening economy.

“The food industry doesn’t seem to be affected the way other sectors have been,” he said. “People have to eat, and I guess you give up things you don’t have to have first. We’re actually up probably 20% on the avocado side from a year ago.”

Cole said Calavo now is looking forward to Super Bowl XLIII Feb. 1 in Tampa, Fla., arguably the largest consumption date of avocados during the year.

“Avocado sales (for Super Bowl Sunday) are going to be bigger than ever it appears,” he said. “Our sales are doubling coming into the period.”