US poultry processor Pilgrim's Pride has said it is raising its first-quarter earnings guidance due to lower feed ingredient costs.

The company said it now expects earnings for the first quarter of its fiscal 2005 year to be between $0.68 and $0.73 per share, compared to its previous guidance of $0.50 to $0.60 per share.

Pilgrim's Pride said the higher forecast was due primarily to lower feed ingredient costs and stronger results in the company's prepared foods division than had been previously forecasted for the quarter.

The company is the second-largest poultry producer in the US, employing more than 40,000 people.