UPDATE 1-Maple Leaf Foods profit falls 24 pct as hog values drop

Wed Oct 31, 2012 9:17am EDT
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* Drought boosted grain prices, hurt hog industry

* Adjusted for hog value charge, earnings were up

By Rod Nickel

Oct 31 (Reuters) - Canadian food processor Maple Leaf Foods reported a 24 percent drop in quarterly profit on Wednesday, after the company took a $13 million charge in the value of its hogs.

Net earnings for the third quarter ended Sept. 30 fell to C$32.6 million ($32.6 million), or 22 Canadian cents per share, from C$43 million, or 29 Canadian cents, a year ago.

Adjusted for one-time charges including the decrease in the value of its hogs, adjusted operating earnings were up 4 percent to C$76.3 million.

Grain prices soared this summer due to a severe U.S. drought, which drove up the cost of raising hogs as well as baking for Maple Leaf Foods, one of Canada's biggest bakers.

Given that the hog industry's problems are well known, Maple Leaf's performance is "positive," said analyst Robert Gibson of Octagon Capital.

"Writing down the piggies, they're taking the hit now as opposed to later."   Continued...