CHICAGO – Tyson Foods Inc. (TSN) Monday said quarterly profit doubled, but shares of the largest U.S. meat company fell after the company's full-year earnings forecast disappointed Wall Street.
Also, the Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson said fourth-quarter profit is expected to be hurt by tight supplies of cattle in the United States.
"Last year we had a tremendous beef quarter; we are not going to have a tremendous beef quarter in the fourth quarter this year," Dick Bond, Tyson's president and chief operating officer, told analysts on a conference call.
Analysts said the tight cattle supply may linger.
"Declining supplies of cattle tend to pressure margins. While Tyson has done an excellent job of managing through this more difficult environment, declining cattle supplies are expected to continue for at least several more years," said David Nelson, analyst with Credit Suisse First Boston, in a research report.
On Friday, the U.S. Agriculture Department (search) reported the U.S. cattle herd as of July 1, at 103.6 million head, was the smallest in 31 years.
Tyson's earnings for the fiscal third quarter ended June 26 increased to $161 million, or 45 cents per share, from $79 million, or 23 cents per share, a year ago.
Wall Street analysts on average expected 36 cents a share, according to Reuters Research.
The company forecast fiscal-year 2004 earnings of $1.20 to $1.30 per share, which implies fourth-quarter earnings below last year's 42 cents a share. The forecast also falls below the $1.40 a share expected by Wall Street analysts on average.
The company's beef unit, the nation's largest, had higher earnings in the third quarter but lower sales, in part because of the first U.S. case of mad cow disease (search) last year.
Beef results at Tyson and other meat companies have been hurt by the loss of key export markets because of the mad cow case. Japan, which had been the top overseas market, has banned U.S. beef since December.
"Based on some movement by the Japanese we look for the market to reopen sometime during the late fall of 2004. We would anticipate that South Korea would open sometime shortly thereafter," Greg Lee, Tyson's president of international operations, said during the conference call.
Sales for the quarter were $6.6 billion, compared with $6.3 billion a year ago.
Tyson shares closed down $1.47, or 7.4 percent, at $18.48 on the New York Stock Exchange (search).