NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of poultry producers rose on Tuesday after Sanderson Farms Inc. said it returned to a profit in the fiscal third quarter, helped by improving market conditions.

Poultry and meat producers have suffered from high costs for feed and flat demand for poultry, but the pressure is slowly easing. Sanderson Farms' results beat analyst expectations and shares rose nearly 9 percent in afternoon trading.

The Laurel, Miss.-based company said market prices for poultry have increased, but it is still facing high grain costs.

Still, results were enough to send shares up across the sector.

Sanderson Farms shares rose $3.85, or 9.4 percent, to $44.44 in afternoon trading. The stock is still down about 11 percent since the beginning of the year.

Pilgrim's Corp. shares rose 36 cents, or 7.3 percent, to $5.29. The stock has also been hard hit, and is still down 8 percent for 2012.

Meat and poultry producer Tyson Foods Inc. shares rose 67 cents, or 4.5 percent, to $15.61. The stock is still down 24 percent in 2012.