By JACK WEATHERLY
Sanderson Farms Inc. reported on Tuesday a net loss of $17.8 million, or 82 cents per share, for the first fiscal quarter, which ended Jan. 31.
Net sales for the period were $743.4 million, compared with $771.9 million for the year-earlier period, the company said in a news release.
The consensus of analysts for FactSet was for a loss per share of $1.55 and sales of $699 million, according to MarketWatch.
Shares consequently leaped $2.75 by noon Central Standard Time to reach $120.86 on the Nasdaq global sales market. Shares have ranged from $93.88 to $128.88 in the past 52 weeks.
Laurel-based Sanderson, the nation’s third-largest poultry processor, benefited in the year-earlier quarter from a one-time federal tax cut that enabled it to record a net income of $51.2 million, or $2.24 per share.
Chairman and Chief Executive Joe Sanderson Jr. blamed “significantly lower market prices for boneless breast meat,” which were partly offset, he said, by higher prices for tray packs sold in grocery stores.
Tray packs were 1.4 percent higher than in the year-earlier period and boneless meat prices were 7.6 percent lower, Sanderson said in the release.
Sanderson said during a teleconference Tuesday morning that he expects the price of soybean and corn – crucial for growing chickens – to be “benign.”
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