UPDATE 4-Tyson Foods sees higher 2011 sales, shares rise

Mon Nov 22, 2010 5:24pm EST

* Q4 EPS $0.64 vs est $0.56

* Q4 revenue $7.44 bln misses estimate of $7.75 bln

* Sees 2011 sales $30 bln vs estimate of $29.735 bln

* Shares rise 6.1 pct (Recasts, adds company, analysts comment, details)

By Bob Burgdorfer

CHICAGO, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Top U.S. meat producer Tyson Foods Inc (TSN.N) expects its fiscal 2011 sales to top Wall Street forecasts, helped by a U.S. consumer preference for lower-cost chicken and a strong international market for beef and pork.

The company on Monday reported better-than-expected quarterly results, sending its shares up 6.1 percent.

Looking ahead, higher chicken prices should offset a rise in feed costs, but their lower cost relative to other meats will still attract budget-conscious U.S. shoppers, the company said. Tyson is also benefiting from demand for beef in markets like Mexico and pork in markets like Japan.

"We're just over halfway through our first quarter of fiscal 2011, and it is shaping up to be a strong quarter and another good year," Chief Executive Donnie Smith said in a statement.

Tyson forecast 2011 sales to rise 5.6 percent to about $30 billion, compared with the average Wall Street estimate of $29.735 billion, as compiled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

It reported net profit of $213 million, or 57 cents a share, for the fourth quarter that ended Oct. 2 compared with a loss of $457 million, or $1.23 a share, a year earlier.

Excluding special items, Tyson earned 64 cents a share, compared with the average Wall Street estimate of 56 cents.

Revenue rose 3.2 percent to $7.44 billion, compared with an average estimate of $7.75 billion.

Tyson said it expects first-quarter results to be similar to the profit posted on Monday, marking an improvement over the first quarter of 2010 when it earned 42 cents per share.

"The company's outlook was much more robust than we had anticipated, particularly for chicken," Heather Jones, analyst at BB&T Capital Markets, said in a note.

Jones raised her first quarter forecast to 59 cents per share from 47 cents following management's comments.

Tyson buys the cattle and hogs that it processes into beef and pork, but raises its own chickens. Higher cattle and hog prices affected beef and pork in fourth quarter, while chicken benefited from lower-than-year-ago feed costs.

Sales volumes of beef, pork and chicken fell as producers cut back herds and flocks in reaction to high feed costs and to slowing meat sales. However, it expects chicken production to increase.

Tyson has spent hundreds of millions of dollars upgrading its chicken plants to increase meat production per chicken and drive down costs, which should also help that unit navigate higher feed costs next year, the company said.

Some analysts were still cautious.

"We think the swing factor for Tyson's 2011 will be the performance of its chicken business, in light of greater supply and higher feed costs," KeyBank analyst Akshay Jagdale wrote in a research note.

Tyson shares closed up 6.1 percent at $16.60 at the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Bob Burgdorfer in Chicago and Mihir Dalal in Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier, Derek Caney and Bernard Orr)