US poultry group Sanderson Farms said it expects market price volatility to continue into 2010 as the firm swung into profit this morning (8 December), reversing a year-ago loss.

Speaking on the company's earnings conference call, chairman and CEO Joe Sanderson Jr. said it was a "successful year" for Sanderson Farms, returning to profitability and recording its largest profit in the third-quarter, despite "challenging" market conditions.

However, he added: "I expect market price volatility to continue. As you know this year's harvest has been slow due to weather. The delays have caused higher than normal volatility in prices. We will remain patient for the time being."

Sanderson Farms saw net income reach $82.3m for the full year compared with a net loss of $43.1m a year ago.

Net sales for the 12 months ended 31 October edged up to $1.78bn from $1.72bn in fiscal 2008. Operating income amounted to $136,610, also reversing an operating loss of $65,683 in the previous year.

Sanderson told analysts that overall market conditions were improved compared to the fourth quarter of last year. He added that while spot market prices for boneless breast meat has been under "significant pressure", the balance of supply has been "relatively steady" throughout the year.

"I do not have a crystal ball for 2010 but indications point to lower supplies. I don't believe improvement will be until late 2010 or 2011 as unemployment moderates. But I remain optimistic for the long-term," Sanderson Jr. said.

Sanderson added that the company has room for "significant improvement" and that it will "work hard to improve that in 2010".