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Food products company, Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation (PPC - Snapshot Report) reported strong results for the third quarter of 2013. Earnings per share was recorded at 62 cents, an impressive rise of 264.7% from the year-ago quarter. This was driven by an increase in both revenues and margins.

The results also surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 61 cents by a penny.

Revenues: In the reported quarter, net sales inched up 3.6% year over year to $2.14 billion, as a result of higher exports and a strong customer base. However, revenues missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2.20 billion by 2.6%.

Segment-wise, sales in the U.S. surged 4.4% to $1.9 billion compared with the prior-year quarter. Sales in Mexico fell 3.4% year over year to $210.2 million in the quarter.

Costs/Margins: Gross profit for the reported quarter increased 122.9% year over year to $236.6 million. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) in the third quarter escalated 114.1% to $226.1 million compared with $105.6 million in the year-ago quarter. The improvements in profits are a result of the company’s endeavors to curb expenses.

Balance Sheet: Exiting the third quarter, Pilgrim’s Pride’s cash and cash equivalents were approximately $330.3 million compared with $78.2 million at the end of the previous quarter. Long-term debt (net of current portion) was recorded at $912.0 million in the reported quarter, almost flat compared with quarter ended Jun 30, 2013.

Cash Flow: In the nine months ended Sep 29, 2013,the company recorded cash flow from operations of $596.7 million against $156.0 million in the year-ago period. Capital expenditures in the nine months increased to $76.3 million from $62.1 million in the year-ago comparable period.

Outlook: Management expects to reach higher operational efficiencies in the coming quarters and into 2014.  Also, the company will undertake to reach its expected growth in value-added export sales, by 30%, in the near term, which has been attained year-to-date.

The stock currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Other stocks worth considering in the food products industry are Diamond Foods, Inc. (DMND - Analyst Report), Inventure Foods, Inc. (SNAK - Snapshot Report) and Pinnacle Foods Inc. (PF - Snapshot Report). All these stocks carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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