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Tyson Foods More Than Doubles 3Q Profits

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SPRINGDALE, Ark. (AP) _ Tyson Foods Inc., the world's largest meat producer, said third quarter profits more than doubled, though fear of mad cow disease hurt beef sales and avian influenza hit overseas chicken sales.

For the quarter ending June 26, Tyson reported earnings Monday of $161 million, or 45 cents per share, compared with earnings of $79 million, or 23 cents per share, a year earlier. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call had forecast Tyson third quarter earnings of 36 cents per share in the most recent quarter.

``We generated record sales and net income in spite of higher grains, raw material costs and limited access to export markets,'' Tyson chairman and chief executive John Tyson said. ``Our pricing and mix of value added products improved, and our strong cash flow put us on target to reach the lower end of our debt goal by the end of the fiscal year.''

But the company forecast earnings for the year that were lower than Wall Street's expectations. Tyson said it expects fiscal 2004 per-share earnings to be between $1.20 to $1.30. The analysts' consensus for Tyson's annual earnings was $1.41.

Shares of Tyson fell 73 cents, or nearly 4 percent, to $19.22 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

For the quarter, the company saw a 13 percent increase in chicken revenues despite restrictions in some countries due to avian influenza. No Tyson poultry has been affected by the disease.

By volume, chicken sales were down 0.2 percent but the average sale price was up 13.2 percent, allowing Tyson to post chicken sales of $2.120 billion.

Tyson cited higher poultry market prices and improved internal efficiency. The company said domestic sales were up but international sales were down because of bird flu-related import restrictions in a number of countries.

Also, Tyson said grain costs rose $90 million in the quarter. The rise was partially offset by $44 million commodity risk management trading.

Overall beef sales decreased $174 million, or 5.5 percent, in the quarter due to a 44 percent decline in international sales. Sales in the United States were up 1.4 percent, and case-ready beef sales were up 13.1 percent. The company had second-quarter beef sales of $2.973 billion.

Partly as a result of depressed chicken and beef sales, Tyson had a strong third quarter in its pork segment, where sales increased by $197 million, 31 percent, to $828 million.

The company cited higher pork prices brought by stronger international sales and its own improved efficiencies.

One-time items had a combined effect of increasing earnings for the quarter by 3 cents per share.

For the first nine months of the year, Tyson said its earnings were $337 million, or 94 cents per share, on sales of $19.3 billion, compared to earnings of $190 million, or 54 cents per share, on sales of $18.0 billion for the same period a year ago.
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