US poultry processor Pilgrim's Pride has said its results for the fourth quarter and full year were at the top end of its earnings expectations.

The company reported net income of US$74.7m, or $1.12 per share, for the fourth quarter to 1 October 2005, compared to adjusted earnings of $65.6m, or 99 cents per share, in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2004. Net sales for the fourth quarter of 2005 were $1.48bn, a slight decrease compared to $1.49bn for the same period last year.

For fiscal 2005, which ended 1 October 2005, the company reported net income of $265.0m, or $3.98 per share, compared to adjusted earnings of $157.2m, or $2.51 per share, in the prior fiscal year. Net sales rose to $5.67bn from $5.36bn a year earlier.

"We are pleased to conclude and report our third consecutive year of record earnings and sales revenues. Our record performance in fiscal year 2005 reflects continued robust demand for our products, both in the United States and abroad, as well as favourable operating performance and feed ingredient costs," said O.B. Goolsby, president and chief executive officer of Pilgrim's Pride.

"Looking ahead to fiscal 2006, as always, we are committed to pursuing opportunities that will enable us to achieve sustainable growth and deliver value to our shareholders. We intend to build on our accomplishments over the past year by leveraging the dedication and hard work of our team members and our sound partner relationships to continue to drive solid results across our businesses," he added.