Smithfield profits soar

Smithfield Foods Inc. stated their fourth-quarter profit rose as a result of strong demand for pork and other packaged meat products.

Their fourth quarter earnings ended December 28, soared 340% to reach 152.6 million dollars, compared with 34.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2013.

For 2014, the company reported a record 556.1 million dollars in annual profit, compared with 120.7 million in 2013.

Sales in the fourth quarter of 2014 amounted to nearly 4.1 trillion, an increase of 5% over the same period of 2013. For the year, Smithfield reported sales of $15 billion, an increase of 8% from 2013 .

The pork processor and producer has been spending more on their packaged food business, where products have higher margins than raw pork meat sales to supermarkets or restaurants.

“Our record results show the evolution of the Smithfield company to a meat packaged brand,” said C. Larry Pope, president and CEO in a statement.

According to information supplied packaged meat sales reached a record $7.2 billion last year.

The company, based in Smithfield, was acquired in 2013 by the Chinese group WH Group Ltd. for $7.1 billion, including the debt.

Since the acquisition, Smithfield has lowered its debt to $ 856 million, which reduced its interest expenses by 12% last year.

In his statement, Pope noted that the recent corporate realignment of Smithfield helps boost economic growth. The company now has four divisions: canned meat, fresh pork, pig production and international.

Regarding the restructuring Pope indicated that this plan would not translate into plant closures or reduced workforce.

Looking ahead, the Pope said: “We are focused strongly on growth and we believe Smithfield is ideally positioned to continue to achieve good results in 2015.”