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Cal-Maine reports $16 million loss for quarter

By JACK WEATHERLY

Cal-Maine Foods Inc. reported on Monday a net loss of $16 million, or 33 cents per share, for the first fiscal quarter compared with a net loss of $30.9 million, or 64 cents, for the year-earlier period.

Net sales were $262.8 million, compared with $239.8 million for the prior-year period.

MarketWatch reported that the FactSet Research Systems Inc. consensus was for a per-share loss of 18 cents. Revenue missed the FactSet consensus of $264.1 million.

Nonetheless, the nation’s largest egg producer reached a 52-week high Monday in trading on the NasdaqGS stock market, with its shares closing at $41.65, up 55 cents.

Dolph Baker, chairman, president and chief executive officer of the Jackson-based company, stated in a news release issued before its stock started trading that “while we are disappointed to report a loss for the quarter, we are encouraged by the year-over-year improvement in our performance.”

“Our results reflect continued solid retail demand and a modest increase in both volumes and prices compared with the first quarter of fiscal 2017 . . . . Our average customer selling prices for all eggs were up 6.8 percent in the first quarter compared with a year ago.

Baker noted again that after the 2015 avian influenza outbreak and losses of laying hens, producers replaced their flocks with younger, more-productive layers and “total supply still remained high through the first quarter.”

“Retail demand has been in line with normal seasonal trends and continues to show year-over-year improvement. However, lower institutional demand for egg products and reduced export demand have resulted in an oversupply environment and created additional pricing pressures.

“The most recent USDA reports indicate the chick hatch has been trending down for most of the past year compared with the previous year, which could influence future supply levels.”

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