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Brazil's BRF 2018 loss tops $1 bln as trade bans, weak economy weigh

(Adds details from the earnings statement)

By Ana Mano

SAO PAULO, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Brazilian food processor BRF SA said it lost money for the third consecutive year as trade embargoes, fallout from a food safety investigation and Brazil's feeble economy thwarted efforts to turn the firm around in 2018.

The company posted a net loss of 4.46 billion reais ($1.19 billion) for 2018, a 306 percent increase from the previous year, the company said in a securities filing on Thursday.

The company recognized a 2.5 billion reais negative impact from the sale of assets included in a divestment plan, which were sold below book value.

BRF also posted a wider-than-expected fourth-quarter net loss of 2.125 billion reais ($569 million), its second consecutive quarterly shortfall. Analysts polled by Refinitiv looked for a net loss of 170.52 million real ($45.64 million).

BRF said results were significantly affected after the European Union embargoed meat products from 12 of its plants after its alleged involvement in a food safety investigation in Brazil.

Such embargoes, it said, spurred an oversupply of chicken and pork products in the domestic market.

This, combined with a rise in grain prices used as feed, put margins under "strong" pressure, the company said.

BRF said grain prices used as feed rose by 30 percent in 2018 compared with a meager 3.3 percent increase in the price of proteins sold in the Brazilian market. ($1 = 3.7407 reais) (Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)