Premium Standard Farms, the second-largest US pork producer, has reported a 40% year-on-year drop in third-quarter earnings. The company blamed weak hog prices for the decline.

Net income fell to US$13.8m, or 44 cents per share, from US$23m, or 74 cents per share, for the third-quarter of last year.

Sales fell to US$242.9m from US$246.8m in Q£ 2005, as hog prices slid 17% year-on-year.

“We are pleased with our third quarter results, which were in line with internal expectations,” commented CEO John Meyer. “During the quarter, our net income increased by 12.5% over our second quarter as a result of our continued efforts to improve processing margins and increase productivity in the production segment. Additionally, favourable grain prices and input costs helped to offset the decline in hog prices.”

This morning (8 February), Premium Standard shares rose 3.8% on the New York Stock Exchange to US$15.28.