Tyson Foods shares tumble on slowing demand, plant closures

Reuters | August 7, 2023

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By Tom Polansek and Granth Vanaik

(Reuters) -Tyson Foods missed Wall Street expectations for third-quarter revenue and profit on Monday, hurt by falling chicken and pork prices as well as slowing demand for its beef products.

Shares closed down about 4% after earlier falling nearly 10% as the company said it is evaluating all operations and closing four more U.S. chicken plants in the latest bid to reduce costs.

“We are looking at everything in terms of how it works across the board,” CEO Donnie King told analysts on a call.

Meat companies that reaped big profits as prices soared during the COVID-19 pandemic are now adjusting to lower prices and reduced demand for some products. Pilgrim’s Pride, one of the world’s largest chicken producers, also saw sales decline from last year in the latest quarter.

Tyson has already cut corporate jobs and shuttered other chicken plants this year as it grapples with declining profits and reduced demand from consumers squeezed by inflation and higher interest rates.

The company has also struggled to predict sales and previously said reduced demand for beef made it difficult to pass on higher costs for labor and feed to consumers.

“Chicken, beef and pork all face different types of macro and market challenges,” Chief Financial Officer John R. Tyson said in an interview.

Net quarterly sales fell 3% to $13.14 billion in the quarter ended July 1, below analysts’ expectations of $13.59 billion, according to Refinitiv data. The company’s average sales prices fell 16.4% for pork and 5.5% for chicken, while rising 5.2% for beef.

“It was another challenging quarter for Tyson, as the macro backdrop remains unfavorable for commodity protein processors,” said Arun Sundaram, analyst for CFRA Research.

Tyson expects the four chicken plants to stop operating in its first two quarters of fiscal 2024, with charges of $300 million to $400 million.

Last year, the company wrongly predicted demand for chicken would be strong at supermarkets in November and December, King has said. In January, Tyson replaced the president of its poultry business.

“If you look at the chicken business today versus where we were just a quarter ago, there are more tailwinds than headwinds in the chicken business in the near to long term,” King said Monday.

A reintroduction of certain antibiotics to Tyson’s chicken supply chain could help the company forecast supply and demand by producing more uniform birds with consistent weights, King said.

In the beef business, Tyson faces reduced profit margins as a diminishing U.S. cattle herd raises costs for livestock.

Net losses attributable to Tyson were $417 million, or $1.18 per share, compared with a net income of $750 million, or $2.07 per share, a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, Tyson earned 15 cents per share, falling short of analysts’ expectations for a profit of 26 cents per share, according to Refinitiv data.

“Domestic consumers continue to look for lower-cost protein alternatives, trading down from higher-cost proteins like pork or reducing overall protein consumption,” Rabobank said.

(Reporting by Granth Vanaik in Bengaluru and Tom Polansek in Chicago; Editing by Milla Nissi, Louise Heavens and Anna Driver)


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