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Ahead of the Bell: Pilgrim's Pride

NEW YORK (AP) -- An analyst said Friday that the first-quarter results of Pilgrim's Pride validate his view that the chicken industry is beginning to improve.

Late Thursday Pilgrim's Pride Corp. reported earnings of 21 cents per share on revenue of $2.04 billion. The earnings performance met the expectations of analysts polled by FactSet, while revenue topped their $2.02 billion estimate.

Akshay Jagdale of KeyBanc Capital Markets said in a client note that Pilgrim's first-quarter U.S. chicken revenue and margins both climbed when compared with the fourth quarter, supporting his opinion that the industry is starting to get better. Pilgrim's chicken segment made up 89 percent of its total quarterly sales.

Jagdale said that the 7.5 percent increase in revenue from the prior-year period for Pilgrim's U.S. chicken segment was better than the 5 percent rise for the chicken industry.

The analyst reaffirmed a "Hold" rating.

A representative for Pilgrim's Pride of Greeley, Colo., did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.