LIVESTOCK HIGHLIGHTS: Top Stories of the Day

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Meat Producer WH Pulls Back Amid Muted Growth Outlook -- Market Talk

0550 GMT - Shares of WH Group pull back sharply Wednesday, following yesterday's record closing. Goldman Sachs expects operating profit growth in the low single-digits at WH in 3Q and 2H17, trimming its profit forecasts for the meat producer in 2017-19 by 2%-4%. GS says weaker fresh pork margins in the US could help force down profit by 12% on year, though this could be offset by 15% net income growth in China backed by strong packaged meat margins. The brokerage maintains a buy rating on the stock. WH is the day's worst-performing blue chip so far, down 4.5% at HK$8.24. (john.wu@wsj.com)

Kroger Weighs Sale of Convenience Stores -- Update

Kroger Co. said it may sell its convenience stores and cut other costs, as the nation's largest traditional grocer battles Amazon.com Inc. and other new competitors.

The nearly 800 convenience stores, most which sell gasoline, will likely fetch Kroger a higher return than profits delivered to the company currently, executives told investors at an annual meeting Wednesday at the New York Stock Exchange.

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Kroger Reaffirms Guidance; Expects Slight 2017 Growth -- Market Talk

09:46 ET - Kroger reaffirms its 2017 guidance despite the impact of hurricanes this year, including Harvey that shuttered many of the grocer's Houston area stores. The US's largest grocer expects positive same-store sales for the rest of the year after two recent quarters of negative growth, which ended 13 years of quarterly identical-store sales growth. Executives told investors at an annual meeting at the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday that they expect earnings per share to be flat or grow slightly for the rest of the year. Net earnings are projected at $1.74 to $1.79 per diluted share, with adjusted net earnings of $2 to $2.05 per share. (heather.haddon@wsj.com; @heatherhaddon)

STORIES OF INTEREST

Restaurants Continue to Post Bad Quarters -- Market Talk

12:22 ET - Restaurant sales continue their decline in 3Q with same-store sales down in September "near the lowest levels we have on record," according to Jefferies. While some of the reasons behind the collective 0.7% decline in overall restaurant comp sales last month can be attributed to the hurricanes in Texas and Florida, Jefferies says it's a combination of an oversupply of restaurants, competition with other food sellers--including convenience stores and meal kit subscription services--and reduced foot traffic to malls. Jefferies says restaurant valuations are too high and that "investors should take a cautious approach to investing in the industry." (julie.jargon@wsj.com)

FUTURES MARKETS

Hog Futures Bounce to One-Month High

Hog futures rose to the highest close in a month on Wednesday, as traders shrugged off concerns about oversupply.

Meatpackers are slaughtering record numbers of hogs, while producers have also increased herd sizes to an all-time high for this time of year. But traders are betting that strong demand for pork, both domestically and in the export market, will help absorb that extra meat supply and prevent a glut.

Prices across the hog market have recently started to trend higher as a result. Meatpackers have increased bids for slaughter-ready hogs for eight consecutive trading days. On Tuesday, packers paid an average of $55 per 100 pounds, up over $1.50 from a day earlier, and were expected to bid more on Wednesday too.

Feedyards didn't sell any cattle at the online Fed Cattle Exchange auction Wednesday morning, passing up bids from meatpackers of between $110 and $110.75 per 100 pounds live. Those would have been steady to above last week's highs.

CASH MARKETS

Zumbrota, Minn Hog Steady At $33.00 - Oct 11

Barrow and gilt prices at the Zumbrota, Minn., livestock market today are steady at $33.00 per hundredweight.

Sow prices are steady. Sows weighing under 450 pounds are $27.00, 400-450 pounds are at $27.00, 450-500 pounds are $27.00 and those over 500 pounds are $29.00-$31.00.

The day's total run is estimated at 100 head.

Prices are provided by the Central Livestock Association.

Estimated U.S. Pork Packer Margin Index - Oct 11

All figures are on a per-head basis.

Date Standard Margin Estimated margin

Operating Index at vertically -

integrated operations

*

Oct 11 +$31.05 +$27.08

Oct 10 +$32.53 +$26.57

Oct 9 +$34.10 +$26.70

* Based on Iowa State University's latest estimated cost of production.

A positive number indicates a processing margin above the cost of production of the animals.

Beef-O-Meter

This report compares the USDA's latest beef carcass composite

values as a percentage of their respective year-ago prices.

Beef

For Today Choice 106.7

(Percent of Year-Ago) Select 107.9

USDA Boxed Beef, Pork Reports

Wholesale choice-grade beef prices Wednesday fell $1.08 per hundred pounds, to $196.32, according to the USDA. Select-grade prices fell $1.26 per hundred pounds, to $188.76. The total load count was 185. Wholesale pork prices rose 24 cents, to $73.00 a hundred pounds, based on Omaha, Neb., price quotes.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 11, 2017 17:35 ET (21:35 GMT)