US food group Hormel Foods today (23 November) posted accelerated sales and earnings growth in the last quarter of its fiscal year, driving higher annual turnover and profits.

Hormel booked a 16.6% rise in fourth-quarter net income to US$121.1m for the three months to 31 October. Net sales jumped 23% to $2.1bn. Segment operating profit was up 19.5% at $206.8m.

“We are pleased to report a strong finish this year, with both earnings and sales up double-digits this quarter,” said chairman and CEO Jeff Ettinger. “Earnings growth was driven by segment profit gains in our Jennie-O Turkey Store and refrigerated foods segments.”

Over Hormel’s full fiscal year, net earnings were up 15.4% at $395.6m. Net sales climbed 11% to $7.2bn. Segment operating profit rose 19.4% to $682.7m.

Ettinger added: “We hit the seven-billion dollar mark in annual sales for the first time in our company’s history, fueled by sales growth across all five of our segments. We were particularly gratified that sales grew across all of our branded, value-added product portfolios.”

Shares in Hormel were up 0.6% at $47.93 at 09:16 ET today.

Click here for the full earnings statement from Hormel. Click here for Hormel chairman and CEO Jeff Ettinger’s comments on the company’s guidance for 2011, its international operations and US consumer confidence.