SPRINGDALE, Ark. (AP) — Tyson Foods, the nation's biggest meat company, said its fiscal first-quarter profit fell by nearly half from last year as higher feed costs cut into the company's profit margins.
But Tyson said Friday it was able to raise prices on chicken and beef as it cut back production, pushing its struggling chicken division to profitability. The company predicted that U.S. meat supplies will fall, which should boost prices and revenue this year.
Shares of the company rose 6 percent in morning trading.
Tyson said net income for the quarter ended Dec. 31 was $156 million, or 42 cents per share, compared with $298 million, or 78 cents per share, during the same period a year before.
Revenue during the quarter was $8.33 billion, up from $7.62 billion during the same period last year.
The results widely beat expectations for earnings of 34 cents per share.
Revenue was also higher than the $8.26 billion analysts were looking for, according to FactSet.
Tyson Foods said the feed costs rose $37 million during the quarter compared to last year. Feed is the most expensive input for livestock production, and wild swings on global grain markets can quickly wipe out Tyson's profit margins.
Tyson was able to raise prices as it cut back sales of chicken and beef. Chicken volumes fell 5 percent during the quarter, while prices rose 11 percent. Beef volumes declined 9 percent while prices climbed 19 percent. Pork volumes rose 3 percent, and prices climbed 16 percent.
The company forecast that overall domestic meat production will fall this year. With meat exports remaining strong, domestic supply will be down between 2 percent and 3 percent compared with last year, the company said.
Tyson estimated that fiscal 2012 revenue will be above $34 billion because of the price increase. That would be higher than last year's revenue of $32.27 billion
Analysts are expecting $34.35 billion in revenue for the fiscal year.
The company also forecast that it will spend between $800 million and $850 million in capital expenditures this year.
Shares climbed $1.12, or 6 percent, to $19.74 in morning trading.