Sanderson Farms has said that it is considering issuing US$1bn in new stock to fund potential acquisitions.

The US poultry group has filed a shelf registration statement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, meaning that it can offer stock up to the value of $1bn, at prices and on terms to be determined by its board of directors, if and when shares are issued.

"Our purpose with this filing is to make available to the company shares that could be used in connection with future acquisitions and other strategic opportunities as they may present themselves," chairman and CEO Joe Sanderson, Jr, said.

The company did not identify a target, but the group did state that the move would not be used to raise liquidity as Sanderson's financial position "remains strong".

Speculation has centred on fellow US poultry giant Pilgrim's Pride as a potential target.

Pilgrim's Pride has seen profits tumble of late due to the difficult conditions facing the industry. It also has high levels of debt and recently warned that it may break a loan covenant, making it susceptible to takeover advances.  

Both Pilgrim's Pride and Sanderson declined to comment further on the news.