LAUREL, MISS. — Net income at Sanderson Farms, Inc. in the fiscal year ended Oct. 31 totaled $28.3 million, equal to $1.27 per share on the common stock, down 47% from $53.3 million, or $2.41 per share, in fiscal 2019. Net sales increased 3.5% to $3.56 billion from $3.44 billion.

Sanderson Farms said it benefited from a strong fourth quarter, when net income rose to $27.9 million, or $1.26 per share, which compared with a loss of $22.9 million in the same period a year ago. Sales during the fourth quarter totaled $940 million, up 3.6% from $906.5 million in the same period a year ago.

The company’s leader attributed the results to its productive response during the challenging times of 2020.

“Through our diligent efforts to implement protocols designed to keep our teams and communities safe, and our ability to shift our production to the highest demand areas, our operations have continued to perform well and have helped to feed American families and maintain the US food supply during the pandemic,” said Joe F. Sanderson, chairman and chief executive officer of Sanderson Farms.

Mr. Sanderson acknowledged the company’s foodservice customers have remained under pressure and demand for chicken products in retail locations was strong through the end of fiscal year. Sanderson said this trend will continue until customers return to restaurants and resume dining away from home in large numbers.

Mr. Sanderson said the company plans to continue focusing its production on tray packs that are in high demand among retail customers.

“We are confident in our ability to continue to execute our organic growth strategy and enhance value for our shareholders and other stakeholders,” he said. “As such, our board of directors recently increased our cash dividend and extended our share repurchase plan.”

In the fiscal year, Sanderson Farms produced approximately 4.81 billion lbs of poultry, up 6.2% from 4.53 billion lbs in fiscal 2019.

In his remarks, Mr. Sanderson also acknowledged the entire supply chain helped the company make these moves during this year.

“I must thank our employees, our contract poultry producers, our customers, our vendors, the consumers who buy our products and the communities and states in which we operate for their hard work, dedication and perseverance during these unprecedented times,” he said. “I am so very grateful for everyone associated with Sanderson Farms for rising to the challenges of 2020.”