The Minnesota-based food and meat group Hormel Foods Corporation has posted a 15% rise in net earnings for the third quarter to US$59.6m, with earnings per share for the quarter rising by 16% to $0.43.

Total turnover rose by 4% for the quarter to $1.41bn, with volumes rising by 2%.

Hormel said that operating profit from grocery products rose by 19% to $27.53m, on the back of an 8% rise in volumes and a 10% increase in revenues to $199.55m.

However, operating profits from refrigerated foods fell by 15% to $25.28m, with both volumes and revenues rising by 2%.

The company's specialty foods division saw operating profits increase by 45% to $10.99m, with volumes up 8% and revenues up by 10%.

"Our strategy to build bigger, stronger brands and grow our value-added portfolio continued to allow us to deliver very good results in the third quarter," said president and CEO Jeffrey M. Ettinger, adding that strength in grocery products, specialty foods and the other segments had more than offset the lower operating profit in other segments.

"I am pleased with the direction and momentum of our business," Ettinger said. "The combination of our focused strategy, disciplined investment decisions on acquisitions and the appropriate reinvestment in the business has built a solid platform for growth. I feel comfortable that the earnings power in front of Hormel Foods will allow us to meet our targeted growth objectives and I am excited about the opportunities that lie ahead."

Ettinger said that based on current expectations for the rest of the year, the company was revising its guidance for full-year earnings per share from a range of $1.94 to $2.04, to a range of $1.98 to $2.04.

For the nine months to 30 July 2006, net earnings reached $196.1m, against $172.4m in the corresponding period last year. Sales for the three quarters rose by 6% to $4.19bn.