LIVESTOCK HIGHLIGHTS: Top Stories of the Day

Features Dow Jones Newswires

TOP STORIES

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Sonic Sales Fall on Price Competition, Weather

Sonic Corp. (SONC) reported a decline in first-quarter revenue as the fast-food chain saw same-store sales fall amid continued price competition and unfavorable weather.

The Oklahoma City-based parent of Sonic Drive-In reported a profit of $11.4 million, or 29 cents a share, compared with $13.1 million, or 28 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue dropped 19% to $105.4 million.

Monsanto Expects Growth From Flagship Herbicide This Year -- Update

Monsanto Co. anticipates reaping bigger profits this year from its flagship weed killer.

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The maker of Roundup herbicide said that higher generic prices for the product's main chemical, glyphosate, would boost Monsanto's business over the coming year as the company works to close its planned sale to Bayer AG.

Monsanto on Thursday reported a fiscal first-quarter profit of $169 million, or 38 cents a share, up from $29 million, or 7 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue edged 0.3% higher to $2.66 billion. Analysts had forecast earnings of 42 cents on $2.77 billion in revenue.

FDA Pauses Enforcement of Certain Food-Safety Provisions -- Market Talk

13:48 ET - FDA won't enforce certain provisions of a sweeping food-safety law as it mulls changes to a system designed to protect consumers from foodborne illness outbreaks. The agency's "enforcement discretion" targets provisions laid out in four rules related to food production and imports, and is intended to address challenges faced by farmers and others tasked with implementing those rules, FDA says. Another aim: to reduce "burdens on both industry and government" as the agency considers adjustments to the biggest overhaul to US food safety law in decades. The action comes in the wake of a December report by HHS' Office of Inspector General that roundly criticized FDA's food-recall process, saying it did not always ensure the safety of the US food supply. (jesse.newman@wsj.com; @jessenewman13)

STORIES OF INTEREST

Monsanto Expects to Reap Benefits from Tax Changes -- Market Talk

8:28 ET - Crop seed maker Monsanto expects to benefit from last month's US tax overhaul, though the company's fiscal-year timing is likely to delay that somewhat, the company says. Monsanto expects the tax revamp will "have a positive impact on the company's effective tax rate, beginning in fiscal year 2019." The company on Thursday reported fiscal first-quarter 2018 earnings, and for the current year, Monsanto expects its effective tax rate "should not exceed 30 percent, and has the potential to be materially lower." Monsanto is in the process of selling itself to Germany's Bayer AG. ( jacob.bunge@wsj.com ; @jacobbunge)

The Science Behind the Supermarket Rotisserie Chicken

Grocers have baked decades of supply-chain and food-safety know-how into their rotisserie chickens.

More than half of households have purchased prepared chicken over the past year and the average household is doing so more frequently, said Matt Lally, a Nielsen analyst.

"It's such an anchor product, that it's on everyone's radar," said Maria Steingoltz, a partner at L.E.K. Consulting who has helped retailers and chicken suppliers make rotisserie sales more profitable.

FUTURES MARKETS

Hogs Rise as Packers Weather Storm

Hog futures rose as a winter storm disrupted the pork trade.

Transportation issues stemming from snowfall, high winds and low temperatures in the eastern U.S. disrupted the flow of slaughter-ready hogs into packing plants for processing.

That prodded the futures market, with February-dated lean hog contracts rising 0.5% to 71.375 cents a pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Hog futures have recently traded at multimonth highs, in part over concerns about freezing temperatures in much of the U.S.

Cattle futures turned lower after initially rising. Some observers said that meatpackers had bought some cattle in northern states for around $125 per 100 pounds, up from last week and above the front-month February contract. Analysts had expected cash prices to rise this week.

CASH MARKETS

Zumbrota, Minn Hog $3.00 Higher At $38.00 - Jan 4

Barrow and gilt prices at the Zumbrota, Minn., livestock market today are $3.00 higher at $38.00 per hundredweight.

Sow prices are steady. Sows weighing 400-450 pounds are at $27.00-$28.00, 450-500 pounds are $27.00-$28.00 and those over 500 pounds are $29.00.

The day's total run is estimated at 150 head.

Prices are provided by the Central Livestock Association.

Estimated U.S. Pork Packer Margin Index - Jan 4

All figures are on a per-head basis.

Date Standard Margin Estimated margin

Operating Index at vertically -

integrated operations

*

Jan 4 +$25.50 +$36.33

Jan 3 +$30.23 +$36.99

Jan 2 +$34.10 +$36.65

* 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 102.6

(Percent of Year-Ago) Select 104.2

USDA Boxed Beef, Pork Reports

Wholesale choice-grade beef prices Thursday rose 5 cents per hundred pounds, to $208.67, according to the USDA. Select-grade prices rose $1.70 per hundred pounds, to $200.86. The total load count was 142. Wholesale pork prices fell 31 cents, to $77.30 a hundred pounds, based on Omaha, Neb., price quotes.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 04, 2018 17:47 ET (22:47 GMT)