Moody's upgrades Brazil giant JBS's ratings

Global credit ratings agency Moody's on Friday upgraded the ratings of Brazilian JBS, the world's top beef processor, to Ba3 from B1, pointing to a stable outlook and the global strength of its operations.

"The ratings outlook is stable," it said in a statement.

"The upgrade reflects the significant improvement in JBS's credit metrics over the last few quarters, mainly as a result of its focus on an organic growth and deleveraging strategy, as well as good performance of its Brazilian beef operations," said Moody's vice-president Marianna Waltz.

The agency also cited JBS's diversification in terms of protein products, including beef, chicken, pork, lamb, leather, raw material sourcing, from production units spread on five continents and market diversity, as the company exports to more than 150 countries, with no single country accounting for more than 15 percent of total export revenues.

But Moody's warned about the "inherent volatility of the protein industry, subject to risk factors such as animal cycles and diseases, weather condition and supply imbalances."

Last year, JBS recorded sales of around $37 billion, up 22.5 percent over 2011.

The company employs more than 135,000 people on five continents.