Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation announced yesterday [Tuesday] that for the first fiscal quarter ended 29 December, net income reached US$13m, or US$0.32 per share, a US$0.3m increase, compared to net income in the prior year’s first quarter of US$12.7m, or US$0.31 per share.

The Company also announced record net sales for the Q1 of US$656m, a 69.9% increase, compared to the US$386m for the same period last year, with the increase resulting primarily from the acquisition of WLR Foods, which was effective 27 January last year.

David Van Hoose, CEO, President and COO, said: “Profits for the first fiscal quarter of 2002 were basically unchanged when compared to the same period last year. Our Prepared Foods, Mexican and Turkey Divisions were the big factors in maintaining these profitable results, however, both our Central and Eastern Divisions Fresh Chicken businesses were off compared to the same period last year, with the Eastern Division having the greatest offsetting effect on the quarter.

“We knew when we acquired WLR Foods, Inc. last January that one of the critical elements to making this acquisition successful would be our ability to improve their existing fresh chicken product mix to a higher-value mix more in line with our long-standing and successful business strategy. We remain confident that we will be successful in making the necessary adjustments and shifts in product mix in our Eastern Chicken Division to make this division a significant and consistent positive contributor to our future bottom line results.”

Pilgrim’s Pride is the second largest poultry producer in the US; the third largest in chicken and fourth largest in turkey, and second largest chicken company in Mexico. Pilgrim’s Pride employs more than 24,500 persons and operates processing and further processing plants, distribution centers, hatcheries and feed mills in Texas, Arkansas, Arizona, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Virginia and West Virginia and Mexico.

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Products are sold under the Pilgrim’s Pride® and Wampler Foods® labels to foodservice, retail and frozen entree customers. The Company’s primary distribution is through retailers and restaurants throughout the United States and in the Northern and Central regions of Mexico and to the foodservice industry nation-wide in both countries.