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Sanderson Farms

(SAFM) - Get Sanderson Farms, Inc. Report

reported record fourth-quarter and full-year earnings Tuesday, blowing away analysts' estimates.

In the quarter ended Oct. 31, the company had a profit of $20.5 million, or $1.55 a share, on revenue of $254.7 million, compared with $6.5 million, or 49 cents a share, on sales of $201 million a year ago. Analysts' consensus estimate was 90 cents a share, according to Thomson First Call.

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The company attributed the results to continued improvement in the chicken market.

In 2003, Sanderson had a profit of $54.1 million, or $4.12 a share, on sales of $872.2 million. That compares with a consensus estimate of $2.87 a share.

The Laurel, Miss.-based company said it is comfortable with earnings estimates of $3 a share in 2004.

Its shares gained 18 cents, closing at $34.43 Monday.