GREELEY, Colo. – Profit at Pilgrim's Pride Corp. jumped 17 percent in the fourth quarter, the company reported.

Pilgrim's, a unit of Sao Paulo, Brazil-based JBS SA, reported net income of $167.2 million which compares to the $143.4 million reported in the same year-ago period. Net sales for the quarter reached $2.11 billion as compared to $2.05 billion.

"Though pleased with our results for 2014 and our team members deserve full credit, we will not be complacent. We continue driving ownership and accountability deeper in our company, and we are developing new tools and methods to improve our efficiency, sales mix, and margin," said Bill Lovette, CEO. "Given our strong cash flow generation, earlier last month we announced a special dividend payment of $5.77 per share, which is a sign of confidence in the future, as well as proof of a promise we made to generate shareholder value while optimizing the company's capital structure."

Full-year results for 2014 included net income of $711.7 million with earnings per share of $2.74. Net sales for the year totaled $8.58 billion.

"We see 2015 as yet another opportunity for our team to create shareholder value through serving our key customers, relentless pursuit of operational excellence, and growing value added exports," Lovette added. "As we begin the year, demand for chicken continues to be strong, outpacing supply, and with the improvements we've implemented, Pilgrim's is ideally situated to reap the benefits."