* Higher volumes, stable prices boost profit
* JBS recently expanded into Brazilian poultry
* Profits fall short of analysts' estimate
SAO PAULO, March 13 Brazil's JBS SA,
the world's biggest beef producer, posted fourth-quarter profits
on Wednesday that came in at a fraction of estimates by a poll
of analysts this week despite stable prices and rising volumes
boosting its bottom line.
Earnings were 66.4 million reais ($33.85 million) compared
with 25.6 million reais in the same quarter a year earlier and
367 million reais in the third quarter of 2012.
The company said its Brazilian unit benefited from higher
beef sales on the internal market and stable prices. Exports
grew strongly in both volume and price, it said. Higher prices
also boosted its recently-begun Brazilian poultry operations.
JBS started out as a family butcher in Brazil and shot to
the top spot in beef globally through an aggressive takeover
strategy, which it has recently resumed. JBS bought local
poultry producer Agrovento in November and plans to open six
additional slaughterhouses in Brazil.
Fourth-quarter profit was only about one quarter of the
282.8 million reais average in a Reuters poll. Analysts had
expected larger earnings citing stronger performance across
JBS's South American operations and lower debt servicing costs.
The South American operations, known as the Mercosul unit,
include operations in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.
Its revenue jumped 39 percent from the fourth quarter of 2011
and 15 percent from the third quarter of 2012.
JBS's U.S. chicken unit Pilgrims Pride Corp. saw net
revenue rise 20 percent year-on-year to $2.2 billion, and the
company said higher prices for the meat had helped offset high
JBS's earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and
amortization, a gauge of operating profit known as EBITDA, rose
25 percent from a year ago to 1.17 billion reais in the quarter,
in line with analysts' estimates for 1.16 billion reais.
JBS stock closed down 0.28 percent in Sao Paulo before its
earnings were posted.
For the calendar year of 2012, net profits reached 718.9
million reais and revenues were 75.7 billion reais.