(Adds EBITDA, details on profit)
SAO PAULO, April 28 (Reuters) - Brazilian meat processor BRF SA on Tuesday reported an increase in first-quarter profit of 43 percent compared with the previous year, due to improving operational performance and a reduction in net financial expenses.
BRF, the world's largest chicken exporter, posted net income of 462 million reais ($159 million) in the January-through-March period, up from 323 million reais in the first quarter of 2014.
However, net profit was down from the 991 million reais reported in the fourth quarter of 2014. Meat companies often post higher profits in the last quarter of the year due to additional sales during the holiday season.
BRF said in a statement that its profits were limited by lower sales to some markets, primarily Venezuela and Russia. Its poultry farms were also affected by 12 days of roadblocks during a truck strike in Brazil in late February.
Even so, earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, a measure of operational efficiency known as EBITDA, rose 11 percent from a year ago to 951 million reais.
Investments in the first quarter were 312.8 million reais, down 6.9 percent from a year earlier due to a decreased effort to expand production capacity in line with BRF's strategy of improving margins.
BRF said some products previously sold under its Perdigão brand like ham and cured sausage could return to the market in July for the first time since 2012 due to an agreement with Brazil's antitrust regulator.
$1=2.9 reais) (Reporting by Roberto Samora; Writing by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Peter Galloway)