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Shares of Tyson Foods, Inc. (TSN - Analyst Report) reached a 52-week high of $33.50 on Wednesday, Dec 4, 2013. Tyson’s share price has been rising ever since it reported solid fourth quarter and full year 2013 earnings and provided a positive 2014 outlook. Moreover, the company has also doubled its quarterly dividend in the same month.

The closing price of this meat processing company on Dec 4 was $33.36, yielding a year-to-date return of 68.4%.

Share Price Drivers

Tyson Foods reported solid earnings and revenue increase in the fourth quarter 2013. Adjusted earnings of 70 cents grew 22.8% year-over-year on the back of strong sales growth and lower share count due to significant share buybacks in the quarter.

Adjusted earnings for the quarter beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 69 cents by a penny. Net sales shot up 7% to $8.9 billion in the quarter, due to sales growth in most of the business segments. Sales were in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate.

Fiscal 2013 adjusted earnings (excluding impairment charges and currency translation gains) of $2.26 per share beat the prior-year quarter earnings of $1.97 by 14.7%. Full year earnings beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2.23 by 1.3%. Net sales increased 4.4% to $34.4 billion in the year 2013, due to sales growth in Chicken and Beef segments. Sales were in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate.

Tyson maintained its fiscal 2014 sales guidance of $36 billion, which reflects its strategy to drive growth in domestic value-added chicken sales, prepared food sales and international chicken production.

On Nov 14, 2013, Tyson hiked its quarterly dividend by 50.0% to 75 cents per share payable on Dec 13, 2013, to shareholders of record as of Nov 29, 2013.

Tyson carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Better-ranked food companies include Mead Johnson Nutrition Co. (MJN - Snapshot Report), Hormel Foods Corp. (HRL - Analyst Report) and Pinnacle Foods Inc. (PF - Snapshot Report). All the companies carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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