The Pork segment came in just below its range for the first time in 10 quarters, with a 5.1% return on sales. Beef was just under its range, with a 2% return. Considering the challenges Beef and Pork faced in the third quarter, I'm pleased they were able to produce as well as they did.
And due to those challenges, along with softer demand and economic conditions, earnings for the year will come in lower than we'd previously projected. But I'll hurry on to say that 2012 will still be a strong year and fourth quarter earnings should be within the range of results reported in the first 3 quarters.
That's why we have this strategy in the business model we have: to manage through volatility. We have a few businesses that are having record years, and all of our businesses have plans in place to deal with the headwinds that we know are coming.
Looking into 2013, we believe it's prudent to enter the year with plans to pull back some on our CapEx and be a little conservative with our cash in order to keep a good supply of dry powder. That's not to say we won't buy back stock or we won't make an opportunistic acquisition. We just want to be prudent in how we handle our cash. We worked hard to get our balance sheet back in order and to get back to investment-grade ratings, and we don't want to jeopardize that.Our pledge to grow prepared foods, value-added poultry and international are the best hedge against volatility. Providing value and getting paid for the value we create for our customers by being their go-to supplier is the key to stability and long-term growth. Now moving on to the macro environment. After 4 months of moderate decline, consumer confidence was up in July, according to the Conference Board Consumer Research Center. Unemployment, however, was virtually unchanged, which weighs on the pace of economic recovery.
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