LAUREL, Miss. (AP) -- Sanderson Farms' fiscal first-quarter loss narrowed, helped by increased poultry prices and improving market conditions.
While the poultry producer's revenue performance beat Wall Street's expectations, the per-share loss fell short of analysts' estimates. The stock fell nearly 4 percent in morning trading.
For the three months ended Jan. 31, Sanderson Farms lost $6.9 million, or 31 cents per share. That compares with a loss of $8 million, or 36 cents per share, in the prior-year period.
Analysts expected breakeven results, according to a FactSet survey.
Revenue rose 15 percent to $595.8 million from $517.8 million. Wall Street predicted $560.6 million in revenue.
Chairman and CEO Joe F. Sanderson Jr. said in a statement Thursday that while the quarterly performance benefited from higher poultry prices, it was hampered by rising grain costs.
Boneless breast meat prices were about 5.1 percent higher than a year ago and jumbo wing prices climbed 24.6 percent, but the average price for bulk leg quarters fell about 2 percent.
The average feed cost per pound of poultry products processed climbed 12.1 percent, Sanderson Farms said, while prices paid for corn rose 16.2 percent and soybean meal prices soared 46.1 percent.
The Laurel, Miss., company added that it has been running its plants at 94 percent capacity since October and will move to full production in June.
"While grain costs remain relatively high, this move is supported by demand from our customers and our desire to keep our costs competitive," Sanderson said.
Shares of Sanderson Farms Inc. dropped $1.99, or 3.8 percent, to $50.03. The stock has traded in a 52-week range of $36.11 to $55.87.
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