Not unlike its well-known SPAM products, Hormel Foods (NYSE:HRL) is a bit of a "whatzit." Is it a more or less commodity-type meat company, or is it a branded products company? Actually, it's a bit of both, though it seems that branded products will be an ever-increasing part of the story.

Results for the company's fiscal third quarter were respectable. Although reported sales were up 17% from the same period last year, a large chunk of that came from acquisitions, and the internal growth rate was more on the order of 4%. Likewise, reported volume rose by a considerable amount (22%), while organic volume growth was much more modest (4%).

The Jennie-O turkey business was a standout for the quarter. While sales were up only about 3% (on a 6% increase in volume), operating profit more than tripled. In all of the other segments, though, margins slid from the year-ago levels. The grocery product and specialty foods businesses both managed to grow their operating profit, but profits were down in the refrigerated foods segment in part because of difficult comparisons.

Looking ahead, Hormel should see some benefits from lower meat prices. Pork is unlikely to repeat the near-decade highs of last year, and beef prices will likely be kept in check by the resumption of imports from Canada. In addition, if predictions about lower grain prices come true, that would help maintain margins in the turkey business.

That's not to say that Hormel management doesn't have work to do. In particular, more should be expected of the company's grocery products division. While SPAM, Mexican Accents, and certain microwave lines are selling well, the company's chili products need to do better against competitors such as Campbell Soup (NYSE:CPB). Elsewhere, the company still has its work cut out in fending off competitors such as Kraft (NYSE:KFT) and TysonFoods (NYSE:TSN) for store shelf space.

I do like this company's ability to generate cash flow and management's focus on smaller, product-oriented acquisitions. Frankly, I like a lot of things about Hormel except its price, as the stock is still at the higher end of its historical P/E range.

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).