Chicken prices have Sanderson Farms flying high

by Keith Nunes
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LAUREL, MISS. — Higher chicken prices led to improved results for Sanderson Farms, Inc., during the third quarter of fiscal 2007. For the quarter ended July 31, the company posted net income of $30,680,000, equal to $1.52 per share on the common stock, which compared with net income of $3,289,000, or 16c per share, for the same period last year. Sales for the quarter were $394,753,000, which compared with $280,976,000 for the same period during fiscal 2006.

"Our performance during the third quarter of fiscal 2007 reflects improved market conditions compared to the same quarter last year," said Joe F. Sanderson Jr., chairman and chief executive officer. "Market prices for all poultry products were higher during the quarter than the prices we experienced during the third quarter of last year, and allowed the company to more than offset the significantly higher feed grain prices we experienced during the quarter."

Mr. Sanderson said the Georgia dock price for whole chickens was 16.9% higher during the third quarter compared with the same period in 2006. Boneless breast meat prices during the quarter averaged 24% higher than the prior-year period, and the price for bulk leg quarters increased 49.5% for the quarter.

At the same time, prices for corn and soybean meal, the company’s primary feed ingredients, increased 68.4%.

"We are obviously pleased that market conditions have allowed the company to offset the significant increases in our costs for corn and soybean meal," Mr. Sanderson said. "Our grain costs for fiscal 2007 will be approximately $124.7 million higher than they were in fiscal 2006. Looking ahead, we expect the market for both corn and soybean meal to remain high and volatile into fiscal 2008."

For the first nine months of fiscal 2007, Sanderson Farms posted net income of $54,762,000, or $2.72 per share, compared with a loss of $21,966,000 for the same period last year. Sales for the period were $1,047,935,000 during 2007 compared with $756,261,000 for fiscal 2006.

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