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Astral Foods Profit Declines on Chicken Imports, Corn Prices

Astral Foods Ltd., a South African poultry producer, said fiscal full-year earnings dropped 23 percent as chicken imports from South America and Europe increased and the local price of corn rose.

Net income declined to 329 million rand ($38 million) in the year through September from 429 million rand a year earlier, the Pretoria-based company said today in a statement. Earnings per share of 8.64 rand beat the 8.41-rand median estimate of four analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

“The poultry industry was put to the test on many fronts,” Chief Executive Officer Chris Schutte said in the statement, referring to corn exports from South Africa, record-high poultry imports, escalating international grain prices and inflation-beating increases in energy costs.

Astral cut 150 jobs in August and froze pay for its 12,000 employees on Oct. 18 as it struggled with rising feed costs. The generic contract price of yellow corn has risen to 2,513 rand a metric ton from its year-low of 1,930 rand on May 7 in Johannesburg trading. Inflation accelerated an annual 5.5 percent in September, compared with 5 percent a month earlier.

Astral’s sales jumped 13 percent in the year to 8.16 billion rand. The shares rose 0.7 percent to 103.20 rand as of 10:33 a.m. in Johannesburg, gaining for a fifth trading day.

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