The company currently has 214.3 million shares outstanding, compared to approximately 77.1 million diluted shares outstanding in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA, which excludes restructuring and reorganization charges, was $124.8 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010, versus $64.9 million for the same period a year ago.
"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 Bill Lovette, president and CEO. "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."
Customer demand improved in the fourth quarter, with Pilgrim's relaying higher volume in its retail and foodservice segments compared to a year ago, Lovette said. Pilgrim's reported double-digit volume increases in some areas of its foodservice business and the company has picked up additional retail business for 2011 from several of its largest customers.
Pilgrim’s began deboning operations at its idled processing plant in Douglas, Ga., last November and re-started slaughter operations in mid-January, Lovette said. The company expects the plant to reach full capacity later this year. Pilgrim's will target further expansion based on customer demand, he added.
"We are cautiously optimistic about the outlook for chicken this year," Lovette said. "While all of us are concerned about sharply higher grain prices and the uncertain economy, there are a number of positive signs as we enter 2011. Based on the negotiations we have completed with most of our foodservice and retail customers, our pricing should be improved year over year. In addition, given the projected reduction in beef supply this year and the higher prices that are expected for beef and pork in 2011, chicken should be attractively positioned with budget-conscious consumers. We are seeing increased demand from foodservice accounts and exports should strengthen this year, particularly as we pursue new market opportunities through our partnership with JBS."