Tyson posts lower earnings in third fiscal quarter

Monday, July 28th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SPRINGDALE, Ark. (AP) _ Tyson Foods Inc., the world's largest meat company, on Monday said its third-quarter earnings fell 26 percent from a year ago.

Excluding one-time items, the results missed narrowly missed the consensus forecast of analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call.

Tyson's earnings fell to $79 million, or 23 cents a share, for the April-June period, down from $107 million, or 30 cents a share, a year earlier.

The results included a gain of 8 cents per share from vitamin antitrust litigation, partially offset by a charge of 3 cents per share related to its closing of a poultry plant in Berlin, Md., and a writedown of 2 cents per share in the value of its live swine operation. The net effect was to boost reported earnings by 3 cents a share.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call expected earnings of 21 cents per share for the quarter before one-time items. That means Tyson missed the forecast by 1 cent a share, Thomson research analyst Ken Perkins said.

Sales rose to $6.3 billion from $5.9 billion for its third quarter a year ago.

In morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange, Tyson shares were down 11 cents at $11.44.

The company says it is meeting its targets to bring down its debt. Tyson, a longtime leader in poultry, became the world's largest meat company with its 2001 acquisition of South Dakota-based meatpacker IBP Inc. for $3.4 billion.

Chairman and chief executive John Tyson said he is pleased with the progress the Springdale-based company is making in building its brand and in developing products with higher margins.

``From a financial perspective, we are on track to achieve or exceed our debt to capital goal of 50 percent or below by the end of fiscal 2003,'' John Tyson said in a news release.

``Our corporate strategy is designed to achieve industry leadership in all segments of our business and we believe there is room for improvement,'' he said.

On July 10, Tyson said it would post earnings of between 19 cents and 22 cents per share, a few cents higher than the 17 cents forecast by analysts at the time.

For the first nine months of the year, Tyson earned $190 million, or 54 cents per share, compared to $299 million, or 84 cents per share, for the same period a year ago. Sales were $18.0 billion, compared to $17.6 billion a year earlier.

Tyson now has 300 plants among 29 states and 22 nations and has 120,000 employees.