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Cal-Maine profits take major hit thanks to lingering effects of flu

By JACK WEATHERLY

Cal-Maine Foods dodged the avian flu outbreak that reduced the nation’s egg production in 2015 by 10 percent.

Yet the Jackson-based firm, the largest producer of shell eggs in the United States, continues to deal with the ripples caused by the influenza

Net sales for the company’s second fiscal quarter, which ended Nov. 26, were $253.5 million, a 53.6 percent decrease compared with $546 million a year earlier, Cal-Maine said in a release.

That meant a net income loss of $23 million, or 48 cents per share, compared with a profit of $109.2 million, or $2.26 per share, in the corresponding fiscal period.

While laying flocks across the country have been replenished to nearly pre-outbreak levels, demand has not matched that growth, according to Dolph Baker, chairman, president and chief executive of Cal-Maine.

“We have also experienced reduced demand for egg products, as many commercial customers reformulated their products to use fewer eggs when prices spiked, and have been slow to resume previous egg usage.

That and other “factors have created an oversupply of eggs, and prices have fallen dramatically from the record high levels last year.”

Yet the company maintained its long-range strategy by acquiring Foodonics International Inc., doing business as Dixie Egg Co. in Jacksonville, Fla., during the quarter.

It added 1.6 million laying hens and other facilities, and also contract arrangements for an additional 1.5 million laying hens.

When Cal-Maine released its second-quarter earnings on Dec. 22, its shares fell to $43.05 from $43.25 on the Nasdaq stock market, according to Yahoo Finance.

But the Street didn’t lose confidence in the company, driving shares back to $45.45 by Dec. 27.

Shares rose $1.10 on Monday, closing at $44.15. The 52-week range is $35.65 to $55.43.

About Jack Weatherly

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