Wednesday, 22 March 2000

Dean Foods Reports Record Third Quarter Earnings

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Wednesday, 22 March 2000

FRANKLIN PARK, Ill., March 22 /PRNewswire/ — Dean Foods Company
(NYSE: DF) today announced record earnings for the third quarter ended
February 27, 2000, of $25.2 million, or $.67 per diluted share. Income from
continuing operations before plant closure charge for the third quarter of
fiscal 1999 was $8.0 million, or $.20 per diluted share.

“While net income was a third quarter record, and Dairy and Specialty
segment earnings and return on sales improved substantially compared to the
third quarter of fiscal 1999, results were still below management’s
expectations due to lower results in our Pickles segment,” stated Howard Dean,
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Very aggressive promotion by the
branded market leader in pickles has depressed pricing, a condition we expect
will carry over into our fourth quarter.”

Net income for the fiscal 1999 third quarter, including a $7.7 million
pre-tax plant closure charge ($4.7 million after-tax, or $.12 per diluted
share), was $3.3 million, or $.08 per diluted share. Net sales for the third
quarter were $976.8 million, down 2% from $995.2 million in fiscal 1999,
primarily due to the pass-through of lower raw milk costs.

Net income for the first nine months of fiscal 2000 was $80.0 million, or
$2.05 per diluted share. Fiscal 1999 income from continuing operations before
plant closure charge was $54.3 million, or $1.34 per diluted share. Including
the plant closure charge, income from continuing operations for the first nine
months of fiscal 1999 was $49.5 million, or $1.22 per diluted share. Net
income for the first nine months of fiscal 1999 of $3.20 per diluted share
included the gain on disposition of the Company’s Vegetables segment of $2.05
per diluted share and a loss from discontinued operations of $.07 per diluted
share. For the first nine months of fiscal 2000, net sales increased 11% to
$3.0 billion, up from $2.8 billion in the comparable period of fiscal 1999.

“Dairy earnings increased more than 400% over the third quarter of fiscal
1999 due to lower raw milk costs, as well as improved plant performance
resulting from integration and plant rationalizations,” continued Mr. Dean.
“Specialty segment operating earnings increased 19% over the third quarter of
1999 as the result of a fiscal 1999 acquisition and continued performance
improvements in our Dean Dip and Dressing division.”

Third quarter corporate expenses decreased from the prior year period
primarily as a result of lower incentive and stock-based compensation
expenses.

Mr. Dean concluded, “We are pleased with the strong earnings in the third
quarter and first nine months for both the Dairy and Specialty segments. We
are disappointed with the third quarter results of the Pickles segment and we
see continued pressure on margins in the fourth quarter; however, we believe,
over the long-term, pickles will continue to be an excellent business for us,”
concluded Mr. Dean.

Dean Foods is one of the nation’s leading dairy processors and
distributors producing a full line of branded and private label products,
including fluid milk, ice cream and extended shelf life products, which are
sold under the Dean’s and other strong regional brand names. Dean Foods is
the industry leader in other food products including pickles, powdered non-
dairy coffee creamers, aseptically packaged foodservice products, and
refrigerated dips and salad dressings.

Certain statements in this press release are forward-looking as defined by
the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements
involve certain risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to
differ materially from expectations as of the date of this press release.
These risks include, but are not limited to, the ability to integrate
acquisitions, adverse weather conditions resulting in poor harvest conditions,
raw milk and resin costs, interest rate fluctuations, competitive pricing
pressures, the effectiveness of marketing and cost-management programs and
shifts in market demand.

The Company’s quarterly earnings conference call will be held today at
10:00 a.m. Central Time. The call may be heard live at the Company’s web
site, http://www.deanfoods.com, using RealPlayer7 Basic software. The basic version
of RealPlayer7 may be downloaded at no charge from
http://www.real.com/products/player/index.html prior to the call. Please allow
approximately 15 minutes to download the software. Replays will be available
at the same internet address for a limited time period.


                              DEAN FOODS COMPANY

                    CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS

                                 (Unaudited)

                                (In Thousands)

                                                February 27,     February 28,
                                                    2000            1999
                      ASSETS
    Current Assets:
      Cash and temporary cash investments         $23,682          $14,093
      Accounts and notes receivable, net of
       allowance for doubtful accounts            298,477          295,146
      Inventories                                 197,360          184,739
      Other current assets                         86,316           73,653

        Total current assets                      605,835          567,631

    Property, Plant and Equipment, net            796,149          708,575

    Other Assets                                  595,058          475,559

        Total Assets                           $1,997,042       $1,751,765


    LIABILITIES AND SHAREHOLDERS' EQUITY
    Current Liabilities:
      Short-term notes payable                        $--          $28,200
      Current installments of
       long-term obligations                        5,253            8,966
      Accounts payable and accrued expenses       375,291          379,337
      Dividends payable                             8,113            8,537
      Federal and state income taxes               51,456           21,311

        Total current liabilities                 440,113          446,351

    Long-Term Obligations                         764,430          497,589

    Deferred Liabilities                          122,337           84,639

    Shareholders' Equity                          670,162          723,186

        Total Liabilities and
         Shareholders' Equity                  $1,997,042       $1,751,765


                              DEAN FOODS COMPANY
                 CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED STATEMENT OF EARNINGS
                            FOR THE PERIODS ENDED
                   FEBRUARY 27, 2000 AND FEBRUARY 28, 1999
                 (In Thousands Except for Per Share Amounts)

                          Third Quarter Ended          Nine Months Ended
                        February 27,  February 28, February 27,  February 28,
                           2000          1999         2000          1999
                                             (Unaudited)

    Net sales             $976,816      $995,169   $3,045,186    $2,754,650

    Costs of products
     sold                  743,366       806,685    2,333,311     2,172,976

    Delivery, selling and
     administrative
     expenses              179,016       164,667      544,186       465,505

    Plant closure charge        --         7,730           --         7,730

    Operating earnings      54,434        16,087      167,689       108,439

    Interest expense        13,401        10,898       37,134        27,947

    Interest income            241           188          629           733

    Income from continuing
     operations before
     income taxes           41,274         5,377      131,184        81,225

    Provision for
     income taxes           16,097         2,097       51,162        31,678

    Income from continuing
     operations             25,177         3,280       80,022        49,547

    Discontinued operations,
     net of taxes:
      Loss from discontinued
       operations               --            --           --        (2,929)
      Gain on sale of
       discontinued
       operations               --            --           --        83,820
      Total discontinued
       operations, net
       of taxes                 --            --           --        80,891

    Net income             $25,177        $3,280      $80,022      $130,438

    Basic income (loss)
     per share:
      Income from continuing
       operations before plant
       closure charge         $.67          $.20        $2.07         $1.35
      Plant closure charge      --           .12           --           .12
      Income from continuing
       operations              .67           .08         2.07          1.23
      Loss from discontinued
       operations               --            --           --          (.07)
      Gain on sale of
       discontinued
       operations               --            --           --          2.10
      Net income              $.67          $.08        $2.07         $3.26

    Diluted income (loss)
     per share:
      Income from continuing
       operations before plant
       closure charge         $.67          $.20        $2.05         $1.34
      Plant closure charge      --           .12            -           .12
      Income from continuing
       operations              .67           .08         2.05          1.22
      Loss from discontinued
       operations               --            --           --          (.07)
      Gain on sale of
       discontinued
       operations               --            --           --          2.05
      Net income              $.67          $.08        $2.05         $3.20

    Weighted average
     common shares:
      Basic                 37,335        40,245       38,584        39,998
      Diluted               37,652        40,737       39,094        40,733


                              DEAN FOODS COMPANY
                         BUSINESS SEGMENT INFORMATION
                            FOR THE PERIODS ENDED
                   FEBRUARY 27, 2000 AND FEBRUARY 28, 1999
                                 (Unaudited)
                                (In Thousands)

                  Dairy       Pickles     Specialty   Corporate  Consolidated
    THIRD QUARTER
     ENDED

    Feb. 27, 2000

    Net sales    $785,541      $85,283     $105,992          $--    $976,816

    Operating
     earnings     $36,399       $5,442      $18,920      $(6,327)    $54,434


    Feb. 28, 1999

    Net sales    $803,333      $82,418     $109,418          $--    $995,169

    Operating
     earnings
     before plant
     closure
     charge        $6,730       $9,066      $15,957      $(7,936)    $23,817
    Plant closure
     charge            --        7,730           --           --       7,730
    Operating
     earnings      $6,730       $1,336      $15,957      $(7,936)    $16,087


      NINE MONTHS ENDED

    Feb. 27, 2000

    Net sales  $2,449,475     $272,065     $323,646          $--  $3,045,186

    Operating
     earnings    $114,367      $25,770      $55,579     $(28,027)   $167,689


    Feb. 28, 1999

    Net sales  $2,196,940     $261,712     $295,998          $--  $2,754,650

    Operating
     earnings
     before plant
     closure
     charge       $69,296      $29,052      $42,569     $(24,748)   $116,169
    Plant closure
     charge            --        7,730           --           --       7,730
    Operating
     earnings     $69,296      $21,322      $42,569     $(24,748)   $108,439

SOURCE Dean Foods Company

Web site: http://www.deanfoods.com

Company News On-Call: http://www.prnewswire.com/comp/109161.htmlor fax, 800-758-5804, ext. 109161

CONTACT: Richard Bailey, President and Chief Operating Officer,or William Luegers, Treasurer, both of Dean Foods, 847-678-1680

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