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TYSON FOODS, INC. (TSN)

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Tyson Foods, Inc. : Tyson Earnings Slide as Consumers Trim Meat Spending

05/06/2013 | 08:35am US/Eastern

Tyson Foods Inc. (TSN) posted weaker-than-expected second-quarter earnings, hurt by tightened consumer spending on meat products at grocery stores and restaurants.

Tyson shares fell 4.3% to $23.86 in recent trading Monday after the meatpacker reported a 43% drop in quarterly profit and cut its full-year sales forecast.

The Springdale, Ark., company said U.S. consumers switched to its lower-priced chicken products from beef, pressuring profit margins in its beef division.

"Higher gas prices and the payroll tax, bad weather and economic uncertainty all weighed on consumers," Chief Executive Donnie Smith said on a conference call with analysts Monday.

Tyson, like other meatpackers, also is facing higher commodity costs, as last year's severe U.S. drought led to higher prices for animal-feed grains and tighter supplies of cattle.

For the quarter ended March 30, Tyson reported a profit of $95 million, or 26 cents a share, down from $166 million, or 44 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding items such as a currency-translation gain and impairment charges on noncore assets in China, adjusted earnings were 36 cents a share in the most recent quarter.

Sales rose 1.8% to $8.42 billion.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters most recently had forecast per-share earnings of 45 cents on revenue of $8.58 billion.

Tyson, the biggest U.S. meat processor by sales, said revenue in its beef division rose 2.3% to $3.44 billion, but volumes fell 3.9%.

Chicken revenue increased 6.3% to $3.1 billion on a 6.2% rise in average prices. Volumes edged up 0.1%.

Pork sales fell 4.4% to $1.31 billion as volumes declined 2.2%.

"Overall, food-service traffic is about flat, but people are ordering fewer items when they visit a restaurant, which means volume is contracting by about half a percent," Mr. Smith said.

Operating margin fell to 2.1% from 3.1% as input costs jumped 3.6%.

The company lowered its full-year sales estimate to about $34.5 billion from its previous forecast of $35 billion.

Write to Kelsey Gee at kelsey.gee@dowjones.com and Melodie Warner at melodie.warner@dowjones.com

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