Fueled by higher prices, Sanderson Farms (NASDAQ:SAFM) reported Tuesday stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings, lifting its shares more than 2% in morning trade.
The Lauren, MS-based company posted net income of $47.8 million, or $2.08 a share, compared with $19.8 million, or 95 cents a share, in the same quarter last year, and beating the Street’s view of $1.72 a share.
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Revenue for the poultry processing company was $529.1 million, up 12.8% from $469 million a year ago, ahead of average analyst estimates polled by Thomson Reuters of $521.13 million.
The frozen chicken seller achieved record annual sales of $1.9 billion, attributed by the company to its growth strategy and solid operational performance. The company hit a record number of chicken processed, up to 2.57 billion pounds of dressed poultry, compared with 2.45 billion in the year-earlier period.
Fourth-quarter gains were driven by higher market prices for poultry products, particularly of boneless breast meat prices, up an average of 26% compared with the prior year.
Looking ahead, the company said it hopes to ramp up production with the recent competition of its new Kinston, North Carolina poultry complex, which will start processing chickens in January.
“We look forward to the new marketing opportunities the Kinston plant will provide for Sanderson Farms as we embark on our next phase of growth in fiscal 2011,” Sanderson said.