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Sanderson Farms, Inc. Reports Results for Fourth Quarter and Fiscal 2004.

LAUREL, Miss. -- Sanderson Farms, Inc. (NASDAQ/NM:SAFM) today reported results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended October 31, 2004.

Net sales for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2004 were $259.2 million compared with $254.7 million for the same period a year ago. For the quarter, net income was $5.1 million, or $0.25 per diluted share, compared with net income of $20.5 million, or $1.04 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2003.

Net sales for fiscal 2004 were $1.052 billion compared with $872.2 million for fiscal 2003. Net income for the year totaled $91.4 million, or $4.57 per diluted share, compared with net income of $54.1 million, or $2.75 per diluted share, for last year. During fiscal 2004, the Company recognized $177,000, net of income taxes, for Sanderson Farms' share in the partial settlement of lawsuits against vitamin and methionine suppliers for overcharges, compared with total similar recoveries of $7.6 million, net of income taxes, or $0.38 per diluted share, during fiscal 2003.

On January 29, 2004, the Company's Board of Directors approved a three-for-two stock split effected as a 50% stock dividend. All share and per share data for the periods presented have been adjusted to reflect this split.

"Fiscal 2004 was another successful year for Sanderson Farms by every measure," said Joe F. Sanderson, Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of Sanderson Farms, Inc. "We reached a significant milestone with the Company's sales exceeding $1 billion for the first time and, more importantly, we are pleased to deliver another year of improved earnings to our shareholders. These results reflect our focus on operational execution and ability to capitalize on strong market conditions through most of the fiscal year."

According to Sanderson, overall market prices for poultry products were less favorable during the fourth quarter than the Company experienced for the first three quarters of Fiscal 2004, but the markets for the year showed considerable strength. As measured by a simple average of the Georgia dock price for whole chickens, prices increased approximately 13.0% in the Company's fourth fiscal quarter compared with the same period in 2003, and increased 15.0% for the full fiscal year compared with last year. Bulk leg quarter prices increased 7.2% during the quarter compared with last year's fourth quarter, and were 41.0% higher for the year compared with last year. Boneless breast meat prices during the quarter were approximately 0.1% higher than the prior-year period, and were up 22.0% for the year. Wing prices averaged $1.03 per pound, up 50.6% from the average of $0.68 per pound during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2003. At the same time, however, costs for corn and soybean meal, the Company's primary feed ingredients, increased 16.4% and 74.2%, respectively, compared with the fourth quarter a year ago.

Sanderson added, "Our operations have continued to run at near full capacity and the Company processed a record 1.6 billion dressed pounds in Fiscal 2004. We look forward to further growth with the construction of Sanderson Farms' new poultry processing complex in South Georgia underway as planned. These facilities will comprise a state-of-the-art poultry complex with capacity to process 1.25 million birds per week at full capacity. We expect initial operations at the new complex will begin during the Company's fourth fiscal quarter of 2005.

"Maintaining a strong balance sheet and carefully managing our working capital have continued to be top priorities for Sanderson Farms. As of October 31, 2004, our balance sheet reflects $75.9 million in cash and cash equivalents. During fiscal 2004, we generated cash flow well in excess of our capital expenditure needs, were able to significantly reduce debt, and were pleased to reward our shareholders through dividends. During the fourth fiscal quarter, the Board of Directors declared a special dividend of $0.50 (fifty cents) per share and increased the regular quarterly dividend to reflect a new annual dividend rate of $0.40 (forty cents) per share. Additionally, our strong financial position provides us with the flexibility to pursue our strategic growth initiatives, including the expansion in Georgia.

"Looking ahead, we enter Fiscal 2005 with confidence that we will continue to build on our momentum. The outlook appears promising for continued strong consumer demand for chicken and improvement in exports, which should produce a favorable market environment next year. We also will realize a significant reduction in our operating costs with materially lower prices projected for corn and soybean meal, our primary feed ingredients. We have already contracted for a portion of our feed grain needs for fiscal 2005, and, based on the pricing of those purchases and given current conditions, we expect to realize savings of between $60 million and $65 million during fiscal 2005 compared with fiscal 2004. We are excited about the opportunities ahead for Sanderson Farms and our prospects for continued growth. Our core strengths, including operational excellence, a proven product mix, exceptional customer service and financial strength, provide us with confidence that we will reach our objectives in Fiscal 2005," concluded Sanderson.

Sanderson Farms will hold a conference call to discuss this press release today, December 7, 2004, at 10:00 a.m. Central, 11:00 a.m. Eastern. Investors will have the opportunity to listen to a live Internet broadcast of the conference call through the Company's Web site at or through To listen to the live call, please go to the Web site at least 15 minutes early to register, download, and install any necessary audio software. For those who cannot listen to the live broadcast, an Internet replay will be available shortly after the call and continue through January 7, 2005.

Sanderson Farms, Inc. is engaged in the production, processing, marketing and distribution of fresh and frozen chicken and other prepared food items. Its shares trade on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol SAFM.

This press release contains forward-looking statements based on management's current views and assumptions. Actual results and events may differ. For a discussion of these matters, please refer to the "Cautionary Statement Regarding Risks and Uncertainties That May Affect Future Performance" in Item 7 of the Company's 2003 Annual Report on Form 10-K and please refer to the cautionary statement found in Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations under the heading "General" in Part I, Item 2 of the Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the Company's third quarter ended July 31, 2004.
 (In thousands, except per share amounts)

 Three Months Ended Twelve Months Ended
 October 31, October 31,
 -------------------- -----------------------
 2004 2003 2004 2003
 -------- -------- ---------- ---------
Net sales $259,223 $254,712 $1,052,297 $ 872,235
Costs and expenses:
 Cost of sales 233,033 205,864 842,337 741,420
 Selling, general
 administrative 18,166 14,778 59,806 40,293
 -------- -------- ---------- ---------
 251,199 220,642 902,143 781,713
 -------- -------- ---------- ---------
 Operating income 8,024 34,070 150,154 90,522

Other income (expense):
 Interest income 547 29 743 80
 Interest expense (322) (450) (1,569) (2,484)
 Other 2 74 (60) 43
 -------- -------- ---------- ---------
 227 (347) (886) (2,361)
 -------- -------- ---------- ---------
Income before
 income taxes 8,251 33,723 149,268 88,161
Income tax expense 3,190 13,223 57,840 34,100
 -------- -------- ---------- ---------
Net income $ 5,061 $ 20,500 $ 91,428 $ 54,061
 ======== ======== ========== =========
Basic earnings
 per share $ 0.25 $ 1.05 $ 4.62 $ 2.78
 ======== ======== ========== =========
Diluted earnings
 per share $ 0.25 $ 1.04 $ 4.57 $ 2.75
 ======== ======== ========== =========
Dividends per share $ 0.60 $ 0.41 $ 0.84 $ 0.61
 ======== ======== ========== =========

Weighted average shares
 Basic 19,945 19,509 19,789 19,462
 ======== ======== ========== =========
 Diluted 20,105 19,785 19,995 19,689
 ======== ======== ========== =========

 Condensed Consolidated Balance Sheets
 (In thousands)

 October 31, October 31,
 2004 2003
 --------- ---------
Current assets:
 Cash and cash equivalents $ 75,910 $ 22,224
 Accounts receivable, net 49,240 46,195
 Income taxes receivable 2,592 --
 Inventories 75,603 61,753
 Prepaid expenses 13,077 13,001
 --------- ---------
Total current assets 216,422 143,173

Property, plant and equipment:
 Land and building 141,727 135,865
 Machinery and equipment 257,671 240,369
 --------- ---------
 399,398 376,234
Less accumulated depreciation (242,685) (221,010)
 --------- ---------
 156,713 155,224
Other assets 1,872 508
 --------- ---------
Total assets $ 375,007 $ 298,905
 ========= =========

Current liabilities:
 Accounts payable $ 30,384 $ 19,033
 Accrued expenses 31,029 37,540
 Current maturities of long-term debt 4,385 4,364
 --------- ---------
Total current liabilities 65,798 60,937

Long-term debt, less current maturities 10,918 21,604
Claims payable 2,600 2,600
Deferred income taxes 16,350 16,665
Stockholders' equity 279,341 197,099
 --------- ---------
Total liabilities and stockholders' equity $ 375,007 $ 298,905
 ========= =========
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Publication:Business Wire
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 7, 2004
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