Operator: Welcome to the Tyson Quarterly Investor Earnings Call. All participants are in a listen-only mode until the question-and-answer session. Today's conference is being recorded. If you have objections, please disconnect at this time.
I would now turn the call over to Mr. Jon Kathol, Vice President, Investor Relations. You may begin.
Jon Kathol - IR: Good morning and thank you for joining us today for Tyson Foods Conference Call for the third quarter of our 2012 fiscal year. I need to remind you that some of the things we'll talk about today will include forward-looking statements. Those statements are based on our view of the world as we know it now, which could change. I encourage you to look at today's press release for a discussion of the risks that can affect our business.
On today's call is Donnie Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer; Jim Lochner, Chief Operating Officer; and Dennis Leatherby, Chief Financial Officer.
To ensure we get to you as many of you as possible, please limit yourself to one question and one follow-up, then get back in the queue if you have additional questions.
I will now turn the call over to Donnie Smith.
Donnie Smith - President and CEO: Thanks, John. Good morning everyone, and thanks for joining us today. Earnings for our fiscal third quarter were $0.21 a share compared to $0.51 in Q3 of last year. Keep in mind earnings were impacted by $167 million or $0.29 a share for the early extinguishment of the 2014 notes. Adjusted EPS was $0.50 for the quarter.
I am very pleased we were able to payoff that debt early, which strengthened an already strong balance sheet, lowered our interest expense in upcoming quarters and helped us get back to investment grade with all three rating agencies, this was an important milestone for our team and I’m proud of them for accomplishing this goal. Sales rose slightly to $8.3 billion compared to $8.2 billion in Q3 of '11.
For the quarter, Chicken sales were up 3.6% in large part due to an 8% increase in pricing. Even though Beef pricing was up over 15% versus a year ago, sales dollars were down slightly due to 14% decrease in volume. Both Pork and Prepared Food sales were down by about 4.5% to 5%, driven largely by softer pricing, although let me hasten on to add that year-to-date our pricing is higher in all segments driving sales growth of 4.4% across the entire portfolio.
Operating income for the quarter was $336 million compared to $312 million in the same quarter last year. The Prepared Food segment was above its normalized range with the 6.2% operating margin. The Chicken segment was within its range at 5.3%. Our international chicken operations faced significant headwinds in Q3, including start up issues in China and Brazil. Excluding these startup related losses, our Chicken segment had 6.7% return on sales.
The Pork segment came in just below its range for the first time in ten quarters with the 5.1% return on sales. Beef was just under its range with the 2% return. Considering the challenges, beef and pork faced in the third quarter I am pleased they were able to produce as well as they did, and due to those challenges along with softer demand and economic conditions earnings for the year will come in lower than previously projected.