(May 2) CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Fresh Del Monte Inc. has reported record financial performance for the first quarter of 2002.

The company reported net income of $67.1 million for the first quarter, or $1.21 per diluted share. The same time last year, net income reached $41.1 million, or 76 cents per diluted share.

The company later announced it would pay a cash dividend of 5 cents per share on June 6.

Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh, chairman and chief executive officer, attributed the success partly to increased volumes and pricing of the company’s pineapples, largely its Del Monte Gold Extra Sweet product.

Abu-Ghazaleh declined to discuss the settlement reached in mid-April between Del Monte and Dole Fresh Fruit Co., Westlake Village, Calif., over Dole’s alleged piracy of the popular variety.

Del Monte also saw higher pricing for bananas, nontropical fruit and fresh-cut products for the first quarter. Abu-Ghazaleh also cited cost-cutting measures, debt reduction and lower interest expense.

John Inserra, executive vice president of the company, said it had seen a 25% increase in product volumes passing through its U.S. distribution centers. Del Monte also added its 22nd company-owned ship to its fleet, helping to ensure favorable shipping costs.

Banana prices were higher in Asia, partly because of dry conditions in the Philippines and crop shortages in China, Abu-Ghazaleh said.