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(Adds details from call with analysts)
SAO PAULO, May 10 (Reuters) - Brazilian food processor BRF SA, the world's largest chicken exporter, said it lost money for the third consecutive quarter as price increases that lifted net revenue failed to offset sharply higher feed costs.
Going forward, the company expects the cost of feed to fall as a result of ample corn supplies in Brazil, but that will only be reflected in results during the second half of 2019, management said during a call with analysts and investors to comment on quarterly earnings on Friday.
BRF posted a first-quarter net loss of 113 million reais ($28.58 million) from continued operations, narrower than analysts expectations of a 239.7 million real loss in the period.
With the addition of a one-time 863 million reais non-cash charge stemming from adjustments related to asset sales in Argentina, the loss for the quarter reached 1 billion reais. BRF shares fell by more than 2 percent to 30 reais in late morning trading.
The food processor also reported a 7.3 percent fall in the total volume of products sold, an 80,000-tonne drop in the quarter, which was partly compensated by a 13 percent rise in the price of its products.
The price increases helped lift net revenue for the quarter by almost 5 percent to 7.4 billion reais, BRF said. Feed prices, on the other hand, rose on average by almost 35 percent in the six months immediately preceding the first quarter, thwarting the company's turnaround efforts.
In Saudi Arabia, a key market, volumes dropped as a result of the decision to lift prices, management said. The drop was only partly offset by sales to Egypt and Yemen, executives noted.
BRF hopes to certify an additional four plants to export meat products to China, as a deadly hog virus sweeping across the Asian country boosts potential demand for Brazilian meat.
Still, BRF executives said it may take up to three years for any company to increase output and stabilize production given the length of the hog production cycle.
In relation to European markets, management said BRF is ready to direct more sales to the continent when the European Union lifts an embargo on 12 of its plants, which was imposed after the firm's involvement in a food safety scandal.
Adjusted EBITDA, or earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, a gauge of operating profit, came in at 748 million reais, the earnings statement said.
($1 = 3.9539 reais) (Reporting by Ana Mano Editing by Nick Zieminski and Marguerita Choy)