US poultry group Pilgrim’s Pride said today (11 February) that its full-year performance was boosted by a 24% jump in fourth-quarter profits.

The company, which had seen pressure on its sales and revenues in previous quarters due to rising feed costs and pricing pressure, reported net earnings of US$41.8m for the quarter ended 26 December, up from $33.6m posted during the comparable period of last year.

For the full year, the group said income dropped to $87.1m on sales of $6.9bn, down from $110.8m on sales of $6.8bn last year. The result included a one-off pre-tax restructuring charge of $88.9m, the company added.

“We were pleased with the progress in our financial performance in the fourth quarter, particularly in light of the challenges posed by sharply higher grain prices,” said PILGRIM‘s president and chief executive Bill Lovette. “Our continuing focus on operating efficiencies, cost control, and sales and product mix improvements helped generate positive results during a difficult time in the industry.”

Lovette added that talks with customers indicate “pricing should be improved” this year from 2010, as “chicken should be attractively positioned with budget-conscious consumers” due to the higher prices expected for beef and pork.

For the full press release, click here.