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Smithfield Foods' Earnings Rise Dramatically

SMITHFIELD, Va. - Smithfield Foods, Inc., the country's biggest hog producer and pork processor, reported drastically higher earnings in its fiscal third quarter, largely because of improvements in the company's hog production operations, according to AP Online.

The company said today that its net income jumped to $46.1 million, or 41 cents per share, in the quarter ended Feb. 1, from $5.3 million, or five cents per share, in the year-earlier period. Sales leaped to $2.70 billion in the quarter from $1.81 billion in the year-ago period.

The fiscal 2004 third quarter included the results of newly acquired Farmland Foods, a pork production and processing business. It also showed $7.5 million in financing costs related to a short-term loan obtained to finance last year’s purchase of Farmland.

Smithfield chief executive Joseph W. Luter III said he was pleased with the results, especially considering the downturn in beef profits after a case of mad cow disease was discovered in the United States late last year. "Hog prices have improved as we anticipated, and our overall processing business is very strong," he said in a statement.

Earnings from continuing operations in the quarter, excluding results from Canadian food processor Schneider Corp., were $42.1 million, or 38 cents per share, compared with $2.9 million, or three cents per share, a year earlier.

In September Smithfield announced plans to sell Schneider to Maple Leaf Foods, Inc. The sale is expected to close before the end of Smithfield's fiscal year.

For the first nine months of the year, Smithfield's net income rose to $104.4 million, or 94 cents per share, from $21.2 million, or 19 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Sales rose 25 percent to $6.75 billion from $5.39 billion.
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