Maple Leaf Foods quarterly profit misses estimates as costs rise

(Reuters) - Canadian packaged meat producer Maple Leaf Foods Inc reported a lower-than-expected quarterly profit on Thursday, hit by higher costs as it invested more in new initiatives and capacity expansion.

The company has been keen on expanding in the United States, seeing growth opportunities in humanely raised animal products and alternative protein sources.

In April, the company said along with its unit Greenleaf Foods it will build a $310-million plant-based protein facility in Shelbyville, Indiana, which is expected to double the company’s current production capacity and produce sausages and raw foods among other items.

The company has also secured a C$2 billion funding arrangement with its existing lenders to fund its expansion plans further.

Net earnings rose to C$50.1 million ($37.27 million), or 41 Canadian cents per share, in the first quarter ended March 31, from C$27.9 million, or 22 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.

Net earnings also included unrealized gains on derivative contracts.

Excluding items, the company earned 20 Canadian cents per share, missing analysts’ average estimate of 31 Canadian cents, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Sales rose to C$907.1 million from C$817.5 million.

Reporting by Shradha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber