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Tyson Foods'


first-quarter earnings slid about 16% from a year ago, held back by tight supplies of cattle and price pressure in the pork market.

The livestock farmer earned $48 million, or 14 cents a share, in the quarter, including a gain of 3 cents a share related to litigation and an asset sale. Tyson earned $57 million, or 16 cents a share, last year. Sales were $6.45 billion in the most recent quarter compared with $6.51 billion a year ago.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were expecting pre-gain earnings of 25 cents a share on sales of $6.69 billion. Tyson also said it expects to earn $1.05 to $1.30 a share in the September 2005 fiscal year, compared with estimates of $1.28 a share, compiled by Thomson First Call.

"The first quarter was extremely difficult for us this year," Tyson said. "Continued market restrictions for beef, as well as a lack of live cattle supplies and a tougher pricing environment for pork, combined to impact our earnings.

"As we said last quarter, we expect market conditions to remain challenging during the first half of our fiscal year. However, we do expect significant improvements in the second half of the year," the company said.

The stock closed Friday at $17.77.