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(Compares results with estimates, adds details)
May 4 (Reuters) - Canadian meat processor Maple Leaf Foods Inc reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit, helped by higher earnings in its prepared meats business.
Adjusted operating earnings in the meat products segment rose nearly eight-fold to C$61.3 million ($48 million) in the first quarter, helped by lower operating costs and price increases.
The company, whose brands include Schneiders and namesake Maple Leaf, recently completed a restructuring program started in 2010 to boost earnings by shutting some plants and modernizing others.
Maple Leaf's net earnings were C$42.3 million, or 31 Canadian cents per share, in the quarter ended March 31, compared with a loss of C$2.9 million, or 2 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.
On an adjusted basis, Maple Leaf earned 28 Canadian cents per share.
Total sales for the company, which is one of Canada's biggest pork processors, rose 2.1 percent to C$796.9 million.
Analysts on average had expected Maple Leaf to earn 23 Canadian cents per share on sales of C$816.9 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
$1 = 1.27 Canadian dollars Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba and Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel