Meat producer Tyson Foods ( TSN) posted a 46% jump in first-quarter earnings, handily topping Wall Street's expectation.

The company's profit for the quarter ended Dec. 30 rose to $57 million, or 16 cents a share, from $39 million, or 11 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial, on average, projected earnings of 6 cents a share.

Sales rose to $6.56 billion from $6.45 billion, beating Wall Street's target of $6.38 billion.

"All of our segments showed substantial improvement over the fourth quarter of fiscal 2006,'' said President and CEO Richard Bond. "Chicken was profitable, and both pork and prepared foods delivered margins in normalized ranges. Although not yet profitable, beef showed meaningful improvement."

Tyson had been struggling with losses over the past year amid an oversupply of chicken parts and pricing pressure in beef. The company has been seeking to cut costs by $200 million to help return it to profitability.

In the latest quarter, earnings were boosted by a $44 million decline in selling, general and administrative expenses due to the cost-cutting efforts.

Looking ahead, the company said it expects the second quarter to be "challenging," but it still expects to be profitable for the period. Tyson also said it is on track to meet its full-year earnings forecast of 50 cents to 80 cents a share, though it said surging corn prices have become an issue.

Wall Street expects earnings of 59 cents a share for the fiscal year.

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