Sanderson Farms stock falls as company didn't process as much chicken as expected in 3rd qtr

MarketsAssociated Press

Sanderson Farms fell sharply in trading Tuesday afternoon after its third-quarter profit was hemmed in by lower chicken processing volume and employee bonus payments.

Lower-than-expected hatch rates were cited by the Laurel, Mississippi company and chickens didn't reach weight targets. The company also set aside more money for an employee bonus award program and an employee stock ownership plan.

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Shares of Sanderson Farms fell $6.03, or 6.3 percent, to $89.09 in afternoon trading.

The company said chicken prices remained historically high during the quarter because of strong demand from retail grocery stores. It reported a profit of $76.1 million, or $3.30 per share. That fell short of Wall Street expectations.

The average estimate of analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $3.77 per share.

The company posted revenue of $768.4 million in the period, also falling short of Street forecasts. Analysts expected $778.7 million, according to Zacks.

Sanderson Farms shares have climbed 32 percent since the beginning of the year. The stock has risen 33 percent in the last 12 months.