By JACK WEATHERLY
Sanderson Farms Inc. reported net income for the second quarter of fiscal 2017 at $66.9 million, or $2.94 a share, compared with $47.6 milllion, or $2.11 a share a year earlier.
Net sales for the quarter were $802 million, compared with $692.1 million for the second quarter of the last fiscal year.
Stable feed prices contributed to profitability, Joe F. Sanderson Jr., chairman and chief executive, said in a release.
The Laurel-based processor, the third-largest in the nation, recorded its second consecutive quarter of improved performance.
Net income for the first half of fiscal 2017 was $90.1 million, or $3.96 per share, compared with $58.3 million, or $2.58, a year earlier.
The company beat the Zacks Equity Research consensus estimate of $2.75 per share for the second quarter.
Net sales for six months were $1.49 billion, compared with $1.297 billion a year earlier.
Sales have been boosted by a Palestine, Texas plant now running at full capacity and the latest, at St. Pauls, N.C., which is expected to reach full capacity in June. The company has 12 processing plants located around the South, seven in Mississippi.
Sanderson Farms announced in March it plans to build a $200 million processing plant, feed mill and hatchery in Smith and Wood counties, Texas. At full capacity, the facilities will employ 1,700 and process 1.25 million birds per week.
Sanderson shares closed at $117.54 on the NasdaqGS market on Tuesday, down $2.49. The 52-week range is $74.07 to $125.87.
Joe Sanderson also stated that the company experienced “continued favorable demand for poultry products from retail grocery store customers, higher demand and improving export environment.”
Exports for U.S. poultry producers were hurt after an outbreak of avian flu in 2015, which struck the Midwest. Sanderson was not struck by the flu.
Processors in Mississippi were put on alert earlier this spring after a strain of avian flu was discovered in Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and Georgia. However, the flu was not detected in Mississippi.