Cal-Maine Foods revealed a return to paying a, small, dividend despite a 7.0% fall in earnings after feed prices, while now on a downward trend, proved "high" over the summer.
The world's biggest egg producer unveiled a dividend of 6.8 cents per share for the June-to-August period, the first quarter of its fiscal year, as it reported earnings of $8.76m for the period.
While below the $9.42m the group reported a year before, the earnings represented an improvement on the $3.8m loss unveiled for the March-to-May period, when Cal-Maine - which bases its dividends strictly on quarterly financial performance - scrapped a payout for the first time since 2009.
"Our operations have run well this summer," said Dolph Baker, the Cal-Maine chairman and chief executive.
'High grain prices'
Mr Baker added that he was "pleased" with the group's sales for the quarter, which rose 17.1% to $319.5m, boosted by takeovers, price rises, and a small increase in volumes of premium eggs.
Cal-Maine Foods was "well-positioned" to exploit "growing demand for specialty eggs", he said, adding that the group would "continue to focus on enhancing our product mix with a full complement of conventional, cage-free, organic and nutritionally enhanced eggs".
However, Mr Baker also highlighted that the group's production costs rose to the equivalent of 3.4 cents per dozen, an increase of 6.7%, thanks to stubbornly higher grain costs.
"Market prices for grain have remained high through the first quarter," he said.
'Lower feed costs'
Mr Baker added that Cal-Maine Foods was "encouraged by the favourable growing conditions this summer, which have improved the yield of this year's corn and soybean crops.
"As a result, prices have already come down from the previous high levels and we expect to incur lower feed costs for the remainder of fiscal 2014."
The group's earnings for the latest quarter equated to $0.36 per share, bang in line with Wall Street expectations.