UPDATE 2-Maple Leaf Foods shares hit record after swing to profit

Thu Jul 28, 2016 3:40pm EDT
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(Adds share jump, CEO comments on use of capital)

By Arathy S Nair and Rod Nickel

July 28 (Reuters) - Canadian meat processor Maple Leaf Foods shares hit an all-time high on Thursday after the company reported a quarterly profit that slightly topped estimates, boosted by lower operating costs and increased prices.

The company, whose brands include Schneiders, recently completed a program started in 2010 to boost earnings by shutting some plants and modernizing others.

"The scale and extent of our financial improvement is a testament to the success of our transformation strategy," Chief Executive Michael McCain told analysts.

Maple Leaf shares jumped 4.2 percent in Toronto, touching a record high of C$30.73.

With the company back in the black, it is considering all options for deploying capital, including expansion in the United States and investments in vegetable protein, snack lines and sustainable meat, McCain said. But he added that it is in no hurry to make big acquisitions.

"We're not going to be elephant hunters," he said.

Adjusted operating earnings for the meat products segment rose to C$62.9 million ($47.8 million) in the second quarter ended June 30, from C$17.7 million a year earlier.   Continued...