SAO PAULO, March 24 (Reuters) - Brazil's JBS SA, the largest meat producer in the world by sales, said fourth-quarter profit more than doubled from a year earlier on higher revenues in South America, but missed analysts' expectations as operating costs surged.
The São Paulo-based company posted unadjusted consolidated earnings for the October-December period of 140.7 million reais ($60.6 million), up from 66.4 million reais in the same quarter a year earlier.
That was well below the median estimate of 374 million reais in a Thomson Reuters poll of analysts. JBS said sales costs doubled from a year earlier, and rose 35 percent from the previous quarter while administrative and general costs also grew.
Revenue for the fourth quarter rose 25 percent from a year earlier to 27.22 billion reais, boosted by strong sales at JBS's Mercosul unit in South America.
Since the purchase of processed foods brand Seara from rival Marfrig SA, approved by anti-trust regulators in September, JBS has become not only the world's biggest beef producer, but also the biggest poultry producer.
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, a measure of operational profitability known as EBITDA, grew to 1.87 billion reais in the fourth quarter, up 9.6 percent compared with a year earlier. The Thomson Reuters poll of analysts had forecast EBITDA of 1.78 billion reais for the quarter.
Chief Executive Wesley Batista said in a letter attached to the JBS earnings statement that he expected the value of sales abroad to reach $15 billion in 2014, up 20 percent from 2013. Brazil's hosting of the World Cup soccer tournament this year would also boost domestic sales, he said. (Reporting by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)