UPDATE 2-Canadian meat packer Maple Leaf Foods swings to profit but shares slide

Thu Oct 29, 2015 10:41am EDT
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(Adds share activity, analyst's comment)

By Tanvi Mehta and Rod Nickel

Oct 29 (Reuters) - Maple Leaf Foods Inc, one of Canada's biggest pork processors, swung to a rare profit in the third quarter as the company nears the end of its restructuring plan.

The profit is only Maple Leaf's second in the past 11 quarters, but was slightly smaller than expected. Shares fell nearly 7 percent in Toronto trading to C$20.95, as the company delayed reaching a key earnings target.

The company rolled out a program in 2010 to boost earnings by shutting some plants and modernizing others.

"We are making meaningful progress on eliminating inefficiencies driven by the ramp-up of our new facilities, though not at the pace we had hoped for," said Chief Executive Michael McCain.

Maple Leaf disappointed by delaying to 2016 its target of increasing EBITDA as a percentage of revenue to 10 percent, said Canaccord Genuity analyst Derek Dley in a note.

The profitability measure amounted to 7.1 percent during the quarter, up from the previous quarter but below expectations, he said.

Restructuring costs fell about 76 percent to C$3.4 million ($2.57 million) in the third quarter.   Continued...