LAUREL, Miss. (AP) â¿¿ Chicken producer Sanderson Farms Inc. said Tuesday that its fiscal first-quarter loss narrowed as expenses declined compared with a year-ago results that also reflected a hefty inventory adjustment. But Chairman and CEO Joe F. Sanderson Jr. said feed costs climbed in the latest quarter with corn supplies at their tightest level in 15 years. Prices paid for corn, which is one of the main feed ingredients, increased 11.6 percent. He said retail demand for chicken is steady, but food service demand is soft and will likely stay under pressure until unemployment levels drop. Sanderson said that poultry market prices are higher than a year ago. Sanderson Farms reported a net loss of $8 million, or 36 cents per share, in the quarter ended Jan. 31. That compares with a loss of $33.6 million, or $1.52 per share, a year earlier. Analysts predicted earnings of 26 cents per share, according to a FactSet poll. The prior-year period included a live inventory adjustment of $22.3 million. Selling, general and administrative expenses fell to $17.9 million from $20.4 million. Revenue climbed 21 percent to $517.8 million from $427.7 million. This beat the $508.9 million that Wall Street forecast. Boneless breast meat prices were about 7.9 percent higher in the quarter, while the average market price for bulk leg quarters rose about 41.4 percent. Jumbo wing prices rose 44 percent, averaging $1.43 per pound. Sanderson Farms is based in Laurel, Miss.
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