Three analysts have backed Smithfield Foods after the US meat group yesterday (Wednesday) published a respectable set of Q1 results in difficult market conditions.

In a research note, analyst Timothy S Ramey of DA Davidson maintained his "buy" rating for Smithfield while raising his estimates for the company. The 12-18-month target price has been raised from $33 to $36.

Similarly, analysts at BB&T Capital Markets maintained their "buy" rating while raising their target price estimates from $30 to $32.

Meanwhile SunTrust Robinson has upgraded its rating for Smithfield from neutral to buy, with analyst William Chappell saying he was encouraged by the rise in hog prices over the last two months and the recent acquisitions of the Sara Lee and ConAgra meats businesses. He initiated a stock price target of $35, Dow Jones reported.