Maple Leaf Foods posts profit, listeria crisis past

Wed Oct 28, 2009 3:06pm EDT
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By Scott Anderson

TORONTO (Reuters) - Maple Leaf Foods Inc, one of Canada's largest food processors, returned to profit in the third quarter on strong performances at its bakery and prepared meats divisions as it recovered from the effects of a costly tainted meat recall last year.

Maple Leaf said on Wednesday it earned C$22.5 million ($21 million), or 17 Canadian cents a share, in the third quarter, ended September 30, compared with a loss of C$12.9 million, or 10 Canadian cents a share, in the same period a year earlier, when it was reeling from the effects of the deadly meat scandal.

Adjusted for the impact of restructuring and product recalls, the company earned 21 Canadian cents a share, compared with 13 Canadian cents for the same period last year.

Revenue slipped 4 percent to C$1.3 billion due to lower fresh meat prices.

Analysts had expected, on average, adjusted earnings per share of 14 Canadian cents on revenue of C$1.31 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

In a separate release, Canada Bread, Maple Leaf's bakery division, said it earned C$25.1 million, or 99 Canadian cents, up from C$19.7 million, or 77 Canadian cents, for the same period a year earlier.

Maple Leaf shares, which have risen 52 percent over the past year, were up 3.9 percent at C$10.87 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

"It looks like they have put the listeria crisis behind them," said Robert Gibson, an analyst at Octagon Capital. "It's business as usual for them."   Continued...