GREELEY, Colo. – Pilgrim's Pride Corp. reported fourth quarter 2012 profit on stronger margins and lower expenses.

For the quarter ended Dec. 30, 2012, Pilgrim's reported a profit of 22.8 million, or 9 cents per share compared to losses of $85.4 million, or 40 cents per share in the year-ago period.

"The results achieved in 2012 point to a determined and disciplined execution of the strategy we implemented over a year and half ago. Through our team members' efforts, we have improved our competitive position significantly over the past two years and we believe we are well positioned for that to continue," said Bill Lovette, Pilgrim's CEO.

"While increased chicken pricing has helped offset the volatile increase in feed costs, our changes in sales mix, yield improvements and driving costs out of our plants and SG&A have made a pivotal impact," Lovette said. "We continue to focus on creating value for our key customers, relentless pursuit of operational excellence and growing our value added exports in order to maintain the trajectory of improvement in 2013 and beyond."

For the full 2012 fiscal year, Pilgrim's reported $8.1 billion in net sales and EBITDA of $393.9 million. Net income for the year was $174.2 million, or 70 cents per weighted average share, making it one of the company's best results in recent years, Pilgrim's said. Net debt declined to $1.1 billion during the period, with a year-to-date reduction of $327.8 million.