November 19, 2014 / 8:50 AM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 2-Russian meat firm Cherkizovo's import ban boost muted by rouble

* Russia banned some Western imports after sanctions

* Q3 earnings rise 8-fold on strong prices after import bans

* But weak rouble increasing dollar costs

* Meat consumption may decrease as inflation rises (Adds Moody’s comments, further details, updates share price)

By Maria Kiselyova

MOSCOW, Nov 19 (Reuters) - A surge in profits at Russian meat company Cherkizovo confirmed it as one of the few winners from a ban on Western food imports, but the pork and poultry producer signalled on Wednesday that a weaker rouble could curb a good run.

Russia slapped a one-year ban on many Western food imports in August in retaliation to sanctions over Moscow’s role in the Ukraine crisis, boosting prices and market share for local producers like Cherkizovo and fish firm Russian Sea.

Cherkizovo’s net profit rose eight-fold in the third quarter, year-on-year, to $113 million, largely on strong pork prices and low grain costs, while sales grew 21 percent to $501 million, it said.

But prices for pork have retreated from record highs hit after Moscow imposed a veterinary ban on European imports in March, before the wider restrictions in August. They are now around the level seen at the start of 2014, Cherkizovo said.

Inflation, now running at about 9 percent, and a deepening economic downturn could hurt demand.

“Growing inflation and a predicted decrease in households’ disposable income will most likely lead to a decrease in meat consumption,” the company said.

Cherkizovo said the rouble’s weakness was causing “notable increases” in dollar costs such as feed and grain, and might put pressure on its fourth-quarter results.

Its shares rose 0.68 percent by 1105 GMT while the broader MICEX index was up 0.16 percent.

Ratings agency Moody’s said the food embargo guaranteed strong demand for local products and supported prices.

“However, the limited time scale of the food embargo ... means that Cherkizovo will be unable to increase its output quickly enough to benefit from the resulting favourable market conditions,” it said in a research note.

“Moreover, given the long-term payback period of new projects (over five years in the pork segment), the company is unlikely to make any significant investment decisions based on such short-term factors as the food embargo.”

Cherkizovo said it still planned to increase production in key segments next year and was confident it could operate successfully in a stagnating market.

Cherkizovo is 65-percent owned by Chairman Igor Babaev and his family, including Chief Executive Sergei Mikhailov. (Editing by Elizabeth Piper and Robin Pomeroy)

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