Pilgrim’s Pride reports sharp profit decline due to export restrictions

GREELEY — Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. (Nasdaq: PPC) on Wednesday reported a sharp decline in profit for its third quarter that ended Sept. 30.

The Greeley-based operator of chicken-processing plants and prepared-foods facilities posted profit of $137.1 million, or 58 cents per share, a 46 percent decline compared with $256 million in profit and $1.01 per share for the same period a year ago.

The company, in a prepared statement, said it was hurt by export restrictions following a bird-flu outbreak.

“We expect export markets to gradually reopen soon depending on the domestic (avian influenza) situation,” Bill Lovette, Pilgrim’s chief executive, said in the statement.

Pilgrim’s had sales of $2.1 million for the quarter, down from $2.3 million for the same period a year ago. Last quarter, Pilgrim’s Pride posted a profit of $241.5 million on $2.05 billion in sales.

Lovette said the strong U.S. dollar is also adversely affecting the export markets.

“In spite of the tough environment last quarter, our cash flow generation continues to be strong, and our team remains relentless in uncovering additional methods to increase operational efficiencies, enhance relationships with key customers, and build competitive advantages.”

A unit of Brazilian meat processor JBS SA and the second-largest poultry processor by sales in the United States, behind Tyson Foods Inc., Pilgrim’s operates chicken-processing plants and prepared-foods facilities in 12 states, Puerto Rico and Mexico. JBS USA controls 75 percent of Pilgrim’s stock.