Tyson Foods executives told investors at the 18th Annual Goldman Sachs Agribusiness Conference on March 12 that Tyson Foods is a different company than it was a few years ago, and the difference has led to sales and earnings growth.

"Our people were determined to be successful no matter what market conditions were or what obstacles we faced," said Dennis Leatherby, the company's executive vice president and chief financial officer. "When we adopted a 'no excuses' mindset, we started producing more consistent, stable earnings."

Leatherby said the company navigated global economic challenges, unfavorable market dynamics and input costs that were sometimes staggering - including $1.5 billion in incremental feed costs during a three-year time frame - and still achieved strong results. He reiterated that they expect fiscal 2014 earnings per share to be at least $2.78.

During a question and answer session, Donnie Smith, the company's president and chief executive officer, acknowledged that the PED virus is hurting hog producers and will likely result in reduced hog supplies and higher prices. Smith reminded investors that Tyson Foods is a buyer of hogs, not a producer, and would have to pass along any increased input costs to the buyers of its pork products.

Prepared foods and value-added chicken will be key drivers of the future growth of Tyson Foods, Smith said, pointing to Wright Brand sausage, Tyson Day Starts frozen breakfast foods and Nature Raised Farms no-antibiotics-ever chicken as examples of recent value-added product launches.