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Shares of Smithfield Foods Inc reached a 52-week high of $27.33 on Mar 25 and eventually closed at $26.85. Shares of this meat producer have been riding high since it reported solid third quarter fiscal 2013 results, recording a healthy return of 19.7% year-to-date. The company’s long-term estimated EPS growth rate is 9.00%. Average volume of shares traded over the last three months came in at approximately 3,019K.

Impressive Third Quarter Results

Smithfield reported impressive third quarter results on Mar 8 with earnings of 58 cents per share, ahead of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 53 cents by 9.4%. Strong momentum in the packaged meat business, solid contribution from international operations and volume growth in all the categories boosted net sales growth by 3.0% to $3.58 billion in the quarter. Total sales also beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $3.53 billion.

The company achieved volume growth in 9 of the 12 core brands, with double-digit growth in its Smithfield, Eckrich, Farmland and Margherita brands. Smithfield also gained market share in the bacon, dinner sausage, dry sausage and ham steak categories and was able to expand the distribution of its core brands in a number of key product categories in the third quarter.

Further, the company continues to focus on improving its product mix toward differentiated, branded and value-added products, both domestically and in the export markets. Smithfield is also increasing its focus on consumer convenience by introducing more ready-to-eat foods.

We believe that Smithfield’s continued focus on brand building investments and innovation, improving packaged meat margins, driven by favorable product mix and increased marketing investments behind its core brands and production of healthier products will boost earnings in the upcoming quarter.

Other Stocks to Consider

Smithfield currently holds a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some other meat producing companies doing well and worth considering include Hillshire Brands Company (HSH - Snapshot Report), Tyson Foods Inc. (TSN - Analyst Report), and Pilgrim’s Pride Corp (PPC - Snapshot Report). While Hillshire Brands and Pilgrim’s Pride hold a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Tyson carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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