Smithfield Foods (SFD) reported stronger results for its fiscal first quarter Wednesday as costs fell and sales rose.
Net income at the Smithfield, Va., company for the period that ended Aug. 1 was $76.3 million, or 46 cents a share, compared to a loss of $107.7 million, or 75 cents a year earlier. Sales rose 7% to $2.9 billion. Wall Street analysts were expecting profit of 45 cents on sales of $3.04 billion, according to Thomson Financial, and Smithfield says it sees better times ahead.
"Fiscal 2011 is off to a great start with record first quarter earnings. The business environment was very favorable in the Pork segment and sharply improved in the Hog Production segment in the first quarter," said C. Larry Pope, president and chief executive officer, in the earnings press release. "Although the first quarter is generally the most difficult quarter for fresh pork, the company generated very strong fresh pork earnings, bolstered by solid exports and low protein supplies, which created an environment of strong profitability."
The optimistic forecast may be enough to buoy the stock in premarket trading. Shares of Smithfield, the world's top pork producer, and maker of Butterball turkeys and other prepackaged meat products, are up 7% this year. They have gained 9% over the past month.
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