US pork processor Smithfield Foods has posted a sharp rise in quarterly earnings, boosted by its recent acquisition of Farmland Foods.

The company posted net income of US$46.1m, or 41 cents per share, for the third quarter to 1 February, compared to $5.3m, or 5 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Third quarter sales were $2.7bn versus $1.8bn a year earlier.

Smithfield said results in the quarter were adversely affected by $11m in costs and inefficiencies in the beef segment related to the market impact of a reported case of BSE in Washington state. Additionally, results in the quarter include $7.5m in financing costs related to a short-term bridge loan obtained to finance the purchase of Farmland Foods, pending receipt of cash proceeds from the sale of Schneider Corporation.

The company said the sharply higher earnings in the third quarter were due primarily to substantially improved results at the company's hog production operations related to a 19% increase in live hog market prices and inclusion of the results of Farmland Foods, which was acquired by the company in October.