Sanderson Farms whole roasting chicken and chicken leg quarters
Conditions in the fourth quarter deteriorated in the big bird deboning market, contributing to Sanderson Farms' Q4 lower earnings.

LAUREL, Miss. – Fourth quarter net income dropped 70 percent at Sanderson Farms Inc. on lower prices for chicken, the company reported.

Net income for the quarter ended Oct. 31 was $27.4 million, or $1.22 per share, compared with $93.1 million, or $4.04 per share reported in the year-ago quarter. Revenues for the quarter dropped 11 percent to $679.6 million compared with $760.9 million a year ago.

The company said Georgia Dock prices for boneless breast meat were 29.5 percent lower in the fourth quarter compared with the prior-year period. For fiscal 2015, boneless prices were 15.4 percent lower when compared with fiscal 2014.

Jumbo wing prices declined 1.3 percent to $1.48 per lb. during the fourth quarter, while the average market price for bulk leg quarters plummeted 53.3 percent for the quarter, and decreased approximately 31.5 percent for fiscal 2015. Sanderson said lower prices for dark meat reflect a significant decline in industry export volumes during the second half of fiscal 2015.

Declines were partially offset by lower prices for feed. Sanderson said cash prices for soybean meal were down 21.2 percent, while corn cash prices by 0.4 percent.

Joe F. Sanderson, chairman and CEO, Sanderson Farms
Joe F. Sanderson, chairman and CEO, Sanderson Farms

“While conditions during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2015 deteriorated in the big bird deboning market, the quarter marked the end of another successful year for Sanderson Farms,” said Joe F. Sanderson, Jr., chairman and CEO.

Net sales for the year were $2.803 billion compared with $2.775 billion for fiscal 2014. Net income for fiscal 2015 totaled $216.0 million, or $9.52 per share, compared with net income of $249.0 million, or $10.80 per share, a year ago.

“We are pleased that our profitability during fiscal 2015 allowed us to fund our planned expansion in Palestine, Texas, further reduce outstanding debt, strengthen our balance sheet, and reward our shareholders with a special dividend,” Sanderson added. “We are well positioned to continue our growth strategy as we continue to move our new poultry complex in Palestine, Texas, to full production and continue construction of our newest complex in St. Pauls, North Carolina.

“The pounds produced in Palestine and St. Pauls, at full production, will represent a 32 percent increase in our capacity,” he said.