LIVESTOCK HIGHLIGHTS: Top Stories of the Day

Features Dow Jones Newswires

TOP STORIES

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Can US Consumers Soak up Extra Chicken? -- Market Talk

12:00 ET - Some of the biggest US meatpackers are investing in new chicken-processing plants, but Sanderson Farms CEO Joe Sanderson thinks the market can probably handle the additional supply. That's partly because Sanderson says the plants coming online will likely split production between small birds, typically processed into products for foodservice operations, and larger-sized birds, mainly going toward retail stores. So, two different markets. The US chicken industry in 2018 currently looks like it will increase overall chicken meat production by 2% in terms of pounds, Sanderson says. (jacob.bunge@wsj.com; @jacobbunge)

Rising Chicken Supplies Pressure Sanderson -- Market Talk

10:09 ET - Cheaper chicken, and the prospect for more, weighs down shares of Sanderson Farms after the Mississippi meat processor reports 4Q profits below what analysts expected. Poultry meat pricing has weakened in recent weeks, pressuring margins for meat companies, and the chicken business aims to produce more. Cheap grain and strong consumer demand have prompted Tyson Foods, Wayne Farms and Sanderson itself to plan new plants and add processing lines. Sanderson Farms shares off 6.1%, hitting their lowest level in over a month, though that's after a 67% run-up this year. (jacob.bunge@wsj.com; @jacobbunge)

Sagging NFL Ratings Hit Chicken-Wing Sales -- Market Talk

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12:18 ET - Americans' slackened interest in football is eating into chicken-wing sales, according to one of the top US meat companies. "The NFL has hurt the wing stores," says Joe Sanderson, CEO of chicken processor Sanderson Farms, speaking on the company's 4Q earnings call. "There's not as much traffic." Wings are a laggard when it comes to the various parts of a chicken that Sanderson Farms sells to grocery stores and restaurants, with pricing for many other products moving higher going into 2018, but not wings, Sanderson says. Lower NFL ratings have been blamed on overexposure, with an increase in Thursday night games, as well as some players' protests during the national anthem, but Sanderson doesn't guess at the reason. (jacob.bunge@wsj.com; @jacobbunge)

STORIES OF INTEREST

Unilever Notches Another Deal -- Market Talk

12:36 ET - Unilever on Thursday said it has made yet another acquisition, marking its 11th deal this year alone. The consumer goods giant has acquired Portland-based brand Schmidt's Naturals, which mainly sells deodorants using ingredients derived from plants and minerals. Deal terms were undisclosed. Unilever expects the acquisition to close by 1Q 2018. Unilever under CEO Paul Polman has been pivoting towards high-growth, natural products in personal care while divesting slower growth food brands. (Saabira.Chaudhuri@wsj.com; @SaabiraC)

Blue Apron Gets Lift from CEO Stock Purchase -- Market Talk

10:45 ET - Incoming Blue Apron Holdings CEO Brad Dickerson has helped to lift the troubled meal-kit company's stock again, this time by buying 180,000 shares, according to a filing. Shares rise 3% Thursday morning. Blue Apron's promotion of Dickerson to CEO from CFO last month has boosted analysts' outlook on the New York City-based company after it faced a series of production problems. Still, shares down 60% from Blue Apron's IPO in June. (heather.haddon@wsj.com; @heatherhaddon)

FUTURES MARKETS

Cattle, Hog Futures Climb

Cattle futures rose on Thursday as buyers returned to the market.

Traders reacted to chart patterns that suggested prices would head higher, analysts said. Cattle futures fell for eight consecutive days earlier this week, creating room for bargain hunting.

December-dated live cattle futures rose 0.5% to $1.16275 a pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Contracts for feeder cattle were also higher.

Hog futures also rose. The front-month CME December contract gained 0.1% to 64.025 cents a pound, while the most-active February contract gained 1.2% to 67.625 cents.

CASH MARKETS

Zumbrota, Minn Hog Steady At $36.00 - Dec 14

Barrow and gilt prices at the Zumbrota, Minn., livestock market today are steady at $36.00 per hundredweight.

Sow prices are steady. Sows weighing 400-450 pounds are at $28.00-$30.00, 450-500 pounds are $28.00-$30.00 and those over 500 pounds are $32.00-$34.00.

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 - Dec 14

All figures are on a per-head basis.

Date Standard Margin Estimated margin

Operating Index at vertically -

integrated operations

*

Dec 14 +$37.56 +$33.98

Dec 13 +$35.91 +$33.23

Dec 12 +$43.43 +$42.82

* 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 104.9

(Percent of Year-Ago) Select 104.8

USDA Boxed Beef, Pork Reports

Wholesale choice-grade beef prices Thursday fell $1.44 per hundred pounds, to $201.04, according to the USDA. Select-grade prices fell $1.33 per hundred pounds, to $183.69. The total load count was 143. Wholesale pork prices rose 35 cents, to $76.21 a hundred pounds, based on Omaha, Neb., price quotes.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 14, 2017 17:34 ET (22:34 GMT)