(By Balachander) Hormel Foods Corp. (NYSE: HRL) reported quarterly earnings that matched market expectations amid sales gains at four of its five segments and the company lifted its forecast for the full year.
Net earnings were $129.72 million or $0.48 per share for the first quarter, compared with $128.39 million or $0.48 per share in the year-ago period.
Sales grew 4 percent to $2.1 billion and volume gained 2 percent.
Wall Street analysts, on average, expected earnings of $0.48 per share on sales growth of 4.70 percent to $2.14 billion.
Segment wise, sales at grocery products jumped 24 percent, while sales at refrigerated foods fell 2 percent. Jennie-O Turkey Store (JOTS) and specialty foods recorded sales growth of 3 percent and 7 percent, respectively. All other segment sales gained 4 percent.
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Jennie-O Turkey Store was confronted with higher grain costs and lower commodity turkey meat prices, the company noted.
The company said refrigerated foods segment is currently facing weaker pork operating margins and challenges in live hog production operations, though Hormel expects those factors to slowly improve.
Looking ahead for the full year 2013, the Austin, Minnesota-based company now forecast earnings per share in the range of $1.93 to $2.03 from prior view of $1.90 to $2.00, while analysts expect $1.96 for the 12 months ending October 2013.
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Hormel said it expects Jennie-O Turkey Store segment to record weaker results.
Early this month, one of the company's key competitors Tyson Foods Inc. (NYSE: TSN) reported 11 percent rise in its first-quarter profit, which also topped Street view, on lower interest expense. The company also guided its fiscal 2013 sales above estimates.
HRL shares ended Wednesday's regular trading at $36.12. The stock has been trading in the 52-week range between $27.28 and $36.72.