Tyson back in profit

US meat processor Tyson Foods has had its first profit in a year as beef and pork sales improved after cutting costs by limiting production and closing plants. Its shares rose on the news.

Tyson said in a statement that sales increased by $6.56bn. Net income jumped to $57m or 16 cents a share instead of the six cents a share predicted by analysts.

CEO Richard Bond said the company saved $44m in the fourth quarter as part of the plan he announced last year to cut costs by $200m and he expected the company to make money in the current three-month period.

As part of his cost cutting plan Bond, who replaced John Tyson as chief executive last May, said he would lay off 420 workers mostly in Arkansas, South Dakota and Nebraska. At the time he said virtually all the savings from the job cuts and other measures would be generated in fiscal 2007, which began on 1 October.

"Our immediate goal was to return to profitability, and I am pleased to say we have accomplished our objective," Bond in a statement.

Tyson said the operating loss in its beef business, its biggest narrowed to $23m, from $64m a year while ago, while pork profit rose almost fourfold to $39m.

Profit in poultry fell 41% to $73m as the company faced soaring cost for the corn used in livestock feed, partially offset by hedging efforts. Prepared Foods profit rose 29% to $31m, the company, said.

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