Pilgrim's Pride Corporation yesterday [Tuesday] announced a net loss of US$3.2m, or $0.08 per share, for the fourth fiscal quarter ended 28 September 2002, a $16.1m decrease compared to net income in the prior year's fourth fiscal quarter of $12.9m, or $0.32 per share. 

The company also announced net sales for the fourth quarter of $639.8m, a $1.5m decrease compared to the $641.3m for the same period last year.  The fourth fiscal quarter results reflect a $0.05 per share non-recurring tax benefit associated with the tax law changes in Mexico.

The company had previously given guidance that its earnings for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2002 were expected to be a net loss in the range of $0.10 - $0.15 per share.

For fiscal 2002, the company reported net income of $14.3m, a $26.8m decrease when compared to the prior fiscal year's net income of $41.1m. 

Net sales for fiscal 2002 were a record $2.5bn, a 14.4% increase compared to $2.2bn for the same period last year, with the increase resulting primarily from the acquisition of WLR Foods, which was effective 27 January 2001.

Pilgrim's Pride attributed the losses to rising feed costs along with the lower prices realised in the US for dark meat chicken products caused by the effects of the import ban by Russia last spring, along with the previously announced impact of avian influenza in the company's Eastern Division. 

"The weakness in commodity prices occurring at a time when our feed costs were rising combined to give the negative results when compared to the prior year's quarter," stated David Van Hoose, chief executive officer, president and chief operating officer for the company.