Carnivores have a friend in JBS. With a daily slaughter capacity of 86,000 head of cattle, JBS is the world's biggest beef (and pork, poultry, and lamb) processor and exporter. In addition to fresh and processed beef and pork (it is the #3 pork producer in the US), JBS offers cooked and canned meats, ready-to-eat meals, as well as hides and dairy products. JBS sells beef domestically under the Friboi brand. It also owns about 75% of US poultry giant Pilgrim's Pride. JBS exports products worldwide; top markets include Japan, the Middle East and Africa, and Mexico. Positioned as an integrated food company, JBS is expanding in the US and Australia. The Batista family through FB Partiçipacões owns 47% of JBS.
Managing its growth strategy is challenging the company's already full plate of activities. JBS posted almost a 60% increase in year-over-year revenues in 2010, fueled in part by its business acquisitions, and marking it as Brazil's third largest company by revenue. Earnings before interest and taxes soared, too. Nonetheless, net earnings plummeted to roughly a $180 million loss, eroded by debt, which swelled by more than 20%, and other costs. Among them, the cost to restructure its US operations (including consolidation of Pilgrim's Pride) simultaneous with incorporating Bertin (a Brazilian meatpacker taken over in late 2009) with the JBS Mercosul food division has taken a toll on working capital, resulting in higher financial expenses.
Adding to its frustration, after two unsuccessful runs at Sara Lee in 2011 and late 2010, JBS ended its attempt to buy the iconic cheesecake maker. A takeover of Sara Lee's packaged meat business (Ball Park, Jimmy Dean) would have consolidated JBS's power as a global integrated meat producer, rivaling US-based Tyson Foods and Smithfield Foods. Following JBS's second failed bid, Wesley Batista succeeded his brother Joesley as company CEO. Wesley, formerly head of JBS USA Holdings, has more than two decades of experience in the company.
Under Joesley Batista, JBS undertook an aggressive international expansion strategy, culminating in alliances and acquisitions in Argentina, Australia, Europe, and the US. Late 2010, JBS entered a 50/50 joint venture with Jack Link's Beef Jerky, a maker of the top US meat snack brand. Concurrently, Jack Link's purchased a beef jerky manufacturing plant from JBS, and JBS agreed to supply raw meat to Jack Link's for processing, packaging, and distribution.
Significant acquisitions have included taking over the ailing Pilgrim's Pride (2009). The deal marked JBS's entry into the US poultry industry and rank as the #2 poultry producer in the world, with a daily slaughtering capacity of 7.9 million birds. After acquiring its initial stake in Pilgrim's Pride, JBS upped its holding to more than 67% in late 2010, and later to 75% in 2012.
JBS also bought out US beef producer Swift Foods (2007), now JBS USA. To diversify its funding resources and raise money for acquisitions, the company in 2009 filed to take JBS USA public. It delayed the IPO and paid an approximately $315 million penalty for its inaction (which added to the company's loss in 2010). In early 2011 JBS withdrew the IPO.