By JACK WEATHERLY
Cal-Maine Foods, Inc. reported net income of $96.3 million, or $1.99 per share, for the third quarter of fiscal 2018, compared with $4.1 million, or nine cents per share, for the year earlier period, thanks in part to a $35 million, or 72 cents per share, boost from the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
Earnings for the year-ago quarter was $4.1 million, or nine cents per share, the company said in a news release.
Net sales were $435.8 million, a 42.2 percent increase compared with $306.5 million for the third quarter of fiscal 2018.
Jackson-based Cal-Maine is the largest producer and marketer of shell eggs in the United States. In fiscal 2017, it sold approximately 1,031.1 million dozen shell eggs, or about 20 percent of domestic shell egg consumption.
Dolph Baker, chairman and chief executive officer of Cal-Maine, stated that “market prices for shell eggs have continued to trend higher this fiscal year, with our average customer selling prices up 36.7 percent over the third quarter last year. Market prices for non-specialty eggs have been especially strong and were up 66.6 percent compared with the prior-year period. Prices remained high through the peak holiday selling season and have continued to move up since the end of the quarter . . . .
“We also benefited from higher egg exports compared with the same time last year. While production has moderated, the laying-hen flock size has moved up modestly compared with prior-year levels, resulting in an improved balance of supply and demand. Recent USDA reports, however, show an increase in chicks hatched, which could indicate future increases in supply.
“Specialty eggs, excluding co-pack sales [for other brands], accounted for 24.3 percent of our total sales volume, compared with 23.6 percent for the same period a year ago. Specialty egg revenue was 30.2 percent of total shell egg revenue, compared with 40.8 percent for the third quarter of fiscal 2017, as a result of significantly higher market prices for non-specialty eggs in the current period.
“We are also focused on aligning our future production capacity with the anticipated industry-wide change in product demand, as our largest customers have made public commitments to exclusively offer cage-free eggs . . . . Cal-Maine Foods provides a diverse product mix that includes cage-free eggs, as well as other healthy and affordable options for consumers including conventional, nutritionally enhanced and organic eggs.”
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