Tyson Foods Inc. reported a net income of $576 million for 2012, down from 2011's $733 million, according to the company's latest financial report. Tyson's net income for the fourth quarter was up from 2011 numbers, however — $181 million compared to $95 million.

"Our earnings for the fourth quarter and fiscal year indicate that Tyson Foods is rising above the noise of commodity markets to produce solid, more consistent results," said Donnie Smith, Tyson's president and CEO. "It has taken us several years and a lot of work to get to this point, and although there is much more to be done, I believe we have reached a new level of sustainable performance.

"While fiscal 2012 wasn't a record EPS year, I think it was our best year — certainly our best effort to date," said Smith. "Our team members didn't make excuses; they made a difference, and they made money. This allowed us to buy back stock throughout the year, including $50 million in the fourth quarter, and to reinvest in our business at a record level while strengthening our balance sheet. Our strong balance sheet, liquidity position and a desire to return cash to shareholders led the board of directors to declare a special dividend and to increase the regular dividend by 25 percent. The board's action is reflective of our increased profitability and the investments we've made in the company.

According to the company, fiscal 2013 is likely to be a challenging one. Current U.S. Department of Agriculture data shows U.S. chicken production will be down slightly in fiscal 2013. Due to the reduced crop supply, Tyson expects higher grain costs in fiscal 2013 compared to fiscal 2012 of approximately $600 million. However, the capital investment and significant operational, mix and pricing improvements the company has made in its chicken segment have better positioned it to adapt to rising grain prices, according to Tyson. For fiscal 2013, the company anticipates its chicken segment will remain profitable, but could be below the normalized range of 5 percent to 7 percent.

"It's our job to accelerate growth by focusing on innovation, serving our customers and developing our team members, whatever the market conditions may be," said Smith. "While we're proud of what we've accomplished, we now have higher expectations, and maintaining the status quo is not an option. We will adapt, we will evolve and we will grow."