Tyson Foods (NYSE:TSN) issued its results for the first three months of its fiscal year Monday. CEO Richard L. Bond was full of praise, calling it "the strongest quarter in 15 months."

Indeed, the company has had some recent troubles. Back in November, Tyson delivered no sales growth and lost $0.17 per share for the fourth quarter versus a $0.33 per-share profit in the year-ago period. Things were also gloomy last summer and at the beginning of 2006. The last part of 2005 wasn't so great, either.

Now, however, there are some better data points for investors to pick over. While net sales growth wasn't spectacular, it at least was up 1.6%, coming in at $6.6 billion. Operating income jumped 32% to $145 million. Net profit was $57 million, or $0.16 per diluted share, with earnings per share growing by 45%.

Looking at Tyson's individual businesses, we see that the chicken operations are under pressure from costs associated with grain -- operating income there fell 41%. Beef is still running at a loss, but the loss wasn't as bad this time around -- $23 million of red ink versus the $64 million loss last year. Income from pork more than tripled, while packaged foods and the always-ethereal "other" category also did well.

Cost management is prominently mentioned in the earnings release. Tyson has done well in reducing its selling, general, and administrative expenses. There was also a significant rise in net cash supplied by operating activities, helped along by a change in the deferred income-tax line in addition to the increase in net income. Operational cash flow for the quarter rose 75% to $321 million, way more than enough to cover capital spending and dividend checks. In the previous quarter, capital expenses brought free cash flow into negative territory.

According to the company's latest 10-K, Tyson says it has been affected not only by higher commodity costs but also by avian flu and the Hurricane Katrina disaster. The repercussions can be seen in the net-income trend: There was a bottom-line profit of $403 million for fiscal 2004, but a net loss of $196 million for 2006. Operational cash flow is also on the decline: In 2004, net cash from operations was $932 million. That figure dropped to $287 million in 2006. Furthermore, capital spending was $531 million in 2006 -- no free cash was left over.

Tyson's corporate belt-tightening is making it difficult for management to strike a balance between engaging investments in marketing initiatives and exploiting opportunities for cost savings, I'd imagine. Competing with the likes of Sadia (NYSE:SDA), Smithfield Foods (NYSE:SFD), Sanderson Farms (NASDAQ:SAFM), and Pilgrim's Pride (NYSE:PPC) in this kind of environment isn't easy.

Over the long term, Tyson will probably rebound from its short-term woes as conditions improve. What about the stock? It's not attractive to me right now because it's pretty close to its 52-week high and has a yield of less than 1%. Plus, there's been no increase in the quarterly dividend for several years now. Tyson had a relatively good quarter, but I just don't see a lot of value in the share price.

The Fool serves up some past fun with Tyson Foods:

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Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns none of the companies mentioned. As of this writing, he was ranked 5,896 out of 21,138 investors in the Motley Fool CAPS system. Don't know what CAPS is? Check it out. The Fool has a disclosure policy.