June 4 (Reuters) - Shares of Canada's largest dairy producer Saputo Inc plunged on Thursday as it reported lower than expected quarterly profits.
The company's shares fell 7.6 percent to C$31.55 in afternoon trading in Toronto.
Saputo reported 31 percent higher quarterly earnings, lifted by the sale of its bakery in February to Canada Bread Company, a subsidiary of Mexico's Grupo Bimbo.
For the fourth quarter ended March 31, net income rose to C$157.3 million ($126.07 million), or 39 Canadian cents a share, from C$119.8 million, or 31 Canadian cents, a year earlier.
But adjusted net earnings, factoring out one-time items, were C$127.2 million or 32 Canadian cents per share, down 17 percent. Analysts were expecting Saputo to earn 40 Canadian cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue during the quarter rose 1 percent to C$2.5 billion, matching expectations.
The Montreal-based company, whose brands include Dairyland milk and Armstrong cheese, is among the top three cheese producers in the United States and also has significant operations in Argentina and Australia. ($1 = 1.2477 Canadian dollars) (By Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Editing by Grant McCool)