Pilgrim’s Pride posts profits in Q4, fiscal 2017

U.S. and Mexico operations performed well despite logistical challenges in quarter.

Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. released higher-than-anticipated results for its fiscal fourth quarter. Net sales for the fourth quarter were $2.74 billion, up 43.5% versus $1.91 billion in same quarter last year. This excluded the Moy Park results, Pilgrims said. Net income for the quarter was $134.3 million, up from $70.6 million during the fourth quarter of 2016, and generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) earnings per share (EPS) were 54 cents, up from 28 cents during the fourth quarter of 2016.

The company also released results for its full 2017 fiscal year, which showed net sales of $10.77 billion, up from $9.88 billion in 2016. Net income for the year was $694.6 million, up from $440.5 million during fiscal 2016, and GAAP EPS was $2.79, up from $1.73 during 2016.

“We generated strong, well-balanced consolidated performance in 2017. Our U.S. and Mexico operations were solid despite logistical challenges in (the fourth quarter) due to the after-effects from natural events in Puerto Rico, Mexico and the U.S., while our newly acquired U.K. and continental Europe operations were consistent,” Pilgrim's chief executive officer Bill Lovette stated. “The performance once again demonstrated the strength and diversity of our portfolio of bird sizes and is what fundamentally differentiates us from the competition, giving us the potential to reduce volatility and generate higher margins over time.”

He said while small birds and tray pack have remained strong during the fourth quarter, conditions in the commodity markets declined in line with seasonality but are already recovering well in the new year, indicating the continuation of chicken demand as the protein of choice in domestic and international markets.

“Facing significant challenges, we are very proud of our team members who had worked tirelessly to continue the operations of our facilities while assisting with rebuilding the local communities,” Lovette said.

Pilgrim's reported that it completed its announced strategic capital investment improvements, including in Sanford, N.C., and Moorefield, W.Va., which will diversify its portfolio by improving mix, reduce the impact of commodity markets and further raise the company’s margin profile.

“The Sanford conversion from commodity to organic tray pack and the acquisition of GNP bring us leadership in premium-branded and (no antibiotics ever) chickens while fulfilling our strategy of creating a portfolio of differentiated products to key customers,” Lovette said.

He added that the company continues to improve the performance of the GNP operations. “Margins have substantially increased since the acquisition just over a year ago and have reached parity with our legacy business during (the fourth quarter). The integration is going well, and we have extracted significant operating and product synergies and are also preparing to expand the distribution of our premium Just Bare Brand. Combined with the success in improving the profitability of our acquired Mexican operations, we believe we have the methodology and the experienced personnel required to grow the operating and financial performance of our U.K. and continental Europe business.”

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