Tyson Foods Inc., the top poultry producer in the U.S., is racing to get its chicken unit back on track as a new, formidable competitor emerges.
The third and sixth biggest U.S. chicken companies, Sanderson Farms Inc. and Wayne Farms Inc., are combining in a $4.53 billion deal, according to a statement Monday from buyers Cargill Inc. and Continental Grain Co. The deal comes as Tyson’s chicken unit posted a loss in its third quarter amid a series of headaches including high feed prices, production challenges and millions in legal costs stemming from price-fixing lawsuits.
A bigger, better version of Sanderson Farms isn’t good news for Tyson. The company is “arguably the best chicken producer in the country, and perhaps the world,” JPMorgan Chase & Co. analysts including Ken Goldman said in a note. Returns over the years have been better than Tyson’s, and its market share increased as a result.
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