Tyson Foods Widens 1Q Profit on Stronger Chicken, Pork Sales

Shares of Tyson Foods (NYSE:TSN) ticked higher after the company reported a stronger-than-expected 85% increase in first-quarter profit, helped primarily by improved volumes of chicken and pork.

The maker of chicken, beef, pork and prepared food products posted net income of $294 million, or 78 cents a share, compared with $159 million, or 42 cents a share, in the same quarter last year.

Earnings were ahead of average analyst estimates polled by Thomson Reuters of 78 cents a share.

Revenue for the Springdale, Ariz.-based company was $7.6 billion, up 14.8% from $6.6 billion a year ago, beating the Street’s view of $7.18 billion.

“Tyson produced record sales and earnings for the fiscal first quarter of 2011,”said Donnie Smith, the company’s chief executive. “Our performance is due to on-going, sustainable operational improvements across all four segments.”

Sales were higher across the board, with its chicken, beef and pork segments up 6.9%, 3.6% and 14.3%, respectively. Prices improved during the quarter for beef, pork and prepared products, and volumes were led by chicken and pork.

Gains were offset by an increase in raw material costs that exceeded higher selling prices.

Looking ahead, the company expects overall domestic protein production to increase slightly, though it anticipates higher exports as well, which would help stabilize prices.