Fitch affirms Tyson ratings outlook as 'positive'

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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CHICAGO – Fitch Ratings revised its ratings outlook for Tyson Foods, Inc. to positive from stable, the agency announced Feb. 5.

Fitch anticipates that Tyson will further reduce its debt and improve margins during fiscal 2014. Additionally, the ratings agency expects Tyson's leverage to decline in fiscal 2014. Tyson's leverage reduction will be driven by reducing its debt, better margins in beef after expanded access to the Japanese market, and the potential for less cost pressure in chicken, Fitch reported.

"Tyson expects about $600 million of incremental feed costs for its chicken segment in 2013," Fitch said. "The firm plans to partially offset this cost with pricing and $100 million of operating efficiencies which Fitch views as attainable."

"Tyson's ratings reflect the firm's low financial leverage, improved operating efficiency, prudent risk management, significant scale, and good diversification," Fitch added. "Tyson generated $33.3 billion of annualized sales during fiscal 2012 with 34 percent from chicken, 40 percent from beef, 16 percent from pork, and 10 percent from prepared foods. With each protein subject to different production cycles and varying supply/demand dynamics, weakness in one or more proteins can be offset by strength in others."

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