UPDATE 3-Tyson profit beats Street on higher beef, chicken prices

Fri Feb 1, 2013 11:59am EST

* Full-year profit forecast more upbeat

* Quarterly earnings rise almost 11 pct

* Average beef price per pound sold increased almost 12 pct

* Shares climb 3 pct

By Lisa Baertlein

Feb 1 (Reuters) - Tyson Foods Inc, the largest U.S. meat company, raised its full-year revenue forecast above analysts' average estimate as strong beef and chicken prices help offset grain costs pushed higher by last summer's historic U.S. drought.

Tyson shares climbed 3 percent on Friday after the company also reported better-than-expected earnings for its fiscal first quarter.

The average price per pound for beef sold during the quarter, ended Dec. 29, was up 11.7 percent from a year earlier, while chicken was up 8.2 percent. Pork fell 5.5 percent.

Volume for all three meats fell during the quarter. Beef had the steepest drop at 10 percent, while pork was down 5.5 percent and chicken was off 1.1 percent.

Springdale, Arkansas-based Tyson forecast a 1 percent decline in overall domestic protein production, including chicken, beef, pork and turkey, for its full fiscal year.

The worst drought in more than 50 years in the U.S. Midwest has pushed up prices for feed corn and led to the smallest cattle supply in more than 60 years.

Cargill Inc, one of the nation's largest beef processors, in January said it would close its Plainview, Texas, beef plant as cattle remains in short supply.

ROSIER OUTLOOK

"We are on our way to producing earnings this year better than fiscal 2012," Tyson Chief Executive Donnie Smith said on Friday.

That was more bullish than Tyson's previous guidance for earnings "similar" to those of the past couple years, JPMorgan analyst Ken Goldman said in a client note.

Tyson forecast full-year revenue of $35 billion, in line with analysts' average estimate $34.65 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company's fiscal first-quarter profit rose almost 11 percent to $173 million, or 48 cents per share. Analysts had expected 42 cents per share.

Sales rose to $8.40 billion from $8.33 billion a year earlier, missing analysts' view of $8.60 billion.

Tyson shares were up 67 cents to $22.79 in midday trade on the New York Stock Exchange.