The Dallas-based processor said net income for the quarter totaled $86.5 million, compared with $63.1 million in fourth quarter 2002.
"It was a really solid quarter across all of our business lines," said Cory Olson, Dean Foods senior vice president and treasurer.
While the company's fourth quarter earnings met analysts' expectations, it anticipated first quarter earnings to be 44 cents to 46 cents per share. Analysts projected earnings of 48 cents per share.
For the full-year, the company doubled its net income from $175.4 million, or $1.21 a share, in 2002 to $355.7 million, or $2.27 a share, in 2003. Sales increased 2.1% to $9.18 billion. In 2004, Olson said the company should continue to get a strong performance from the full acquisition of Horizon Organic Holding Corp., which is expected to have steady 20% sales growth.