Poultry processor Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation has recorded a net loss of US$7.5m, or $0.11 per share, for the fourth quarter, hit by US and foreign tax expenses of $25.8m.

The company said that excluding the effect of this one-time item, net income for the fourth fiscal quarter would have been $18.3m, or $0.28 per share, ahead of analyst estimates of around $0.14 per share. In the fourth quarter of fiscal 2005, the company reported net earnings of $74.7m, or $1.12 per share.

Sales for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2006 were $1.34bn, against $1.483bn in the fourth quarter of 2005.

“We are pleased that in the fourth quarter, excluding the tax effect associated with our foreign dividend repatriation, we returned to profitability, particularly in light of the tremendous challenges facing the US chicken industry,” said president and CEO O.B. Goolsby, Jr. “Our financial performance during the quarter reflected an improvement in chicken prices for most of the quarter, coupled with the progress we have made toward lowering our costs and operating more efficiently in a difficult operating environment.”

For the full 2006 fiscal year, the company reported a net loss of $34.2m, or $0.51 per share, on total sales of $5.24bn. Excluding the effect of the one-time tax expenses, the net loss for 2006 would have been $8.4m, or $0.12 per share, Pilgrim’s Pride said, exceeding consensus analyst estimates of a loss of $0.26 per share. For the full 2005 fiscal year, Pilgrim’s Pride reported net earnings of $265.0m, or $3.98 per share, on sales of $5.67bn.