Maple Leaf quarterly profit beats estimates

Higher prices, growing demand have positively affected the balance sheet

Maple Leaf Foods posted a fourth-quarter profit Feb. 21 that beat estimates, due to better pricing and high demand for its prepared meats and plant-based protein foods.

The company, one of Canada’s biggest pork processors, is focusing on expanding into new businesses in the United States. Its latest acquisition was the US$120-million purchase of vegan foods company Field Roast Grain Meat.

Maple Leaf said sales in the reported quarter rose nearly six per cent to $876.8 million. However, gross margins fell 14 per cent on higher costs.

Net earnings fell to $59.1 million, or 45 cents per share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, from $76.2 million, or 56 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned 41 cents per share, beating analysts’ average estimate by two cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

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