By JACK WEATHERLY
Net income for Jackson-based Cal-Maine Foods — the nation’s largest producer of eggs — rose in the third fiscal quarter to $50.9 million, its second-biggest quarter ever.
Earnings per share were $1.05, compared with 89 cents a year earlier on $42.9 million in net income.
Net sales were up 10.6 percent for the quarter, which ended Feb. 28, aided by a 6.1 percent rise in average sales price over the year-ago quarter, Dolph Baker, chairman, president and chief executive, said in a news release on Monday.
TheStreet reports that Cal-Maine’s specialty eggs, sometimes sold under as Egglands Best and Land O Lakes and other brands, are driving Cal-Maine’s sales higher.
Specialty eggs, primarily nutritionally enhanced, account for 27 percent of total revenue, according to TheStreet.
Baker said another positive factor in earnings was that the cost of feed was 5 percent lower than third quarter 2014.
“Those lower costs reflect the record corn and soybean crops harvested in the United States last fall,” Baker said.
Feed cost per dozen was 44 cents compared with 46 percent in fiscal 2014, according to the release.
The net average wholesale sales price for a dozen eggs was $1.50 in the quarter that ended Feb. 28, compared with $1.42 in the year-earlier quarter, according to the release.
Yet the company has had to contend with market forces such as California’s Proposition 2, which went into effect Jan. 1 and requires a larger space for hens, including those from out of state.
Tim Dawson, chief financial officer, said in an interview that while California has not been a big state for Cal-Maine’s sales, Prop 2 affects the national market, and thus the company.
Nevertheless, Cal-Maine, which currently has about 2,500 employees, is working on a joint venture in California, Dawson said.
Already in the works are expansion plans for this year and 2016 in Florida, Texas, Kentucky, Georgia and Kansas and costing about $110 million, according to the quarterly filing.
Cal-Maine shares dropped 70 cents in trading Monday on the Nasdaq stock market, closing at $38.38.