Hormel reports higher profit despite bird flu

A turkey farm near a Jennie-O plant
This April 20, 2015 photo shows a sign warning visitors to stay away outside a turkey farm near a Jennie-O Foods turkey processing plant in Melrose, Minn.
Kirsti Marohn | The St. Cloud Times via AP

Hormel Foods raised its full-year earnings forecast Tuesday, despite continuing problems caused by the avian flu outbreak.

The company, based in Austin, Minn., reported that net income rose more than 6 percent to $147 million in the latest quarter.

The profit jump came despite a drop in revenue, as the company's Jennie-O Turkey Store division struggled to replace flocks decimated by avian flu.

Hormel CEO Jeff Ettinger said it's unclear whether the fall waterfowl migration might rekindle the disease.

"Perhaps birds go south faster than they come north and they may not linger as long in the areas, and so that may be a positive factor," he said. "But at this point, it's just such a wild card."

Ettinger expects Jennie-O sales to drop again in the fourth quarter. So far, the company has restocked about two-thirds of the farms hit by bird flu.

About 55 farms supplying turkeys for Jennie-O were hit by avian flu. In May, the company laid off more than 200 workers at its Faribault turkey processing plant.

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