S poultry processor Sanderson Farms has reported lower sales and income for the second quarter ended 30 April 2005. Market prices for chicken were lower than a year ago, it said, but it benefited from lower grain prices.

Net sales were $259.2m compared with $272.7m for the same period a year ago. Net income was $26.5m, compared with $33.4m in the year earlier period.

Net sales for the first six months were $492.5m compared with $499.2m for the first half a year ago. Net income for the first half of the year totalled $36.6m compared with $52.4m for the first six months of last year.

"Sanderson Farms delivered a solid performance for the second fiscal quarter of 2005," said Joe F Sanderson Jr chairman and CEO. "While overall market prices for chicken were not as strong during the second quarter as we saw a year ago, the market continues to reflect above average pricing and good demand. The company has and will continue to benefit from lower grain prices, and the company's operations continue to perform at the top of the industry.

"We look forward to further improvement in our sales execution and operating performance as we head into the summer months, which typically mark the period of highest demand for chicken products," he said.

Market prices for all poultry products were flat or decreased during the second quarter when compared with the second quarter of fiscal 2004.

"The market environment looks favourable as consumer demand for chicken products continues to be strong in the United States, and export volume is showing renewed growth," he said. "We expect to benefit from lower corn and soybean meal prices during fiscal 2005. We believe we will realize between $60m and $65m in savings for grain costs this fiscal year. As such, we believe Sanderson Farms is well positioned in the market and we look forward to the new opportunities before us for fiscal 2005."