US food company Performance Food has reported lower fourth-quarter net earnings, hit by a one-time charge.

The company reported net earnings of US$8.5m, or 18 cents per share, for the three months to 1 January, compared to $12.2m, or 26 cents per share, for the year-ago period. Net sales were $1.58bn, up from $1.50bn a year earlier. Performance Food said net earnings for the quarter reflected the impact of the company's previously disclosed one-time charge of approximately $10.1m, or $6.4m after tax, for the redemption of the company's outstanding convertible notes.

For the full year, net earnings were $52.6m, or $1.11 per share, compared to $74.2m, or $1.54 per share, in the previous year. Net sales were $6.15bn compared to $5.52bn a year earlier.

"We're especially pleased with the efforts of our associates in driving strong internal sales growth in the fourth quarter. The results reflect that our focus on serving our customers is yielding a steady improvement in our business each quarter. We are very pleased that in the fourth quarter, we realised significant operating earnings growth over the prior year period," said Bob Sledd, chairman and chief executive officer.

Performance Food markets and distributes national and private label food and food-related products to restaurants, hotels, cafeterias, schools, healthcare facilities and other institutions. One of its main products is the Fresh Express line of fresh packaged salads.