SPRINGDALE, ARK. — Domestic and international demand for beef, pork, chicken and turkey boosted Tyson Foods’ earnings during the first quarter of fiscal 2011, ended Jan. 1, 2011. Net income during the quarter was $294 million, equal to 78c per share on the common stock, an increase compared with the same period during the previous year when net income was $160 million, or 42c per share.

Sales for the quarter were $7,615 million, up 15% from the first quarter of fiscal 2010.

“Tyson produced record sales and earnings for the fiscal first quarter of 2011,” said Donnie Smith, president and chief executive officer of Tyson Foods. “The Chicken, Beef and Pork segments produced operating income in or above their normalized ranges. With strong operating cash flows, we reduced our net debt to a 10-year low of $1.4 billion, down $132 million from the fiscal fourth quarter of 2010. Return on invested capital was strong at 26%.

“Our performance is due to on-going, sustainable operational improvements across all four segments,” Mr. Smith said. “Our view of 2011 is basically the same as it was a few months ago. Beef and Pork are off to a great start, and their combined results in 2011 should be similar to 2010. Since 2008, our Chicken segment has produced approximately $600 million in performance improvements, with nearly all of that amount coming from operational efficiencies. There are more opportunities to realize, which will contribute to Chicken's profitability in the remaining quarters of the fiscal year.

“Because of the structural changes we’ve made throughout our businesses, we are competing effectively, even within the volatile markets we're facing. While 2011 will have its challenges, it has the potential to be comparable to 2010.”

For the rest of fiscal 2011, Tyson Foods expects overall domestic protein production to increase slightly. But an anticipated growth in exports will lead to a decline in total domestic protein availability compared to fiscal 2010.

The decline in availability will support future pricing, according to the company.