Bunge earnings dip in second-quarter

by World Grain Staff
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WHITE PLAINS, NEW YORK, U.S. — Bunge Limited reported on July 28 a drop in earnings to $316 million or $2.02 per share, from $1.78 billion or $11.15 per share reported a year ago. Last year’s results included a $2.44 billion gain on the sale of its fertilizer business.

Excluding the gain and other items, earnings were $1.78 per share this year, compared to a prior-year loss of 57¢.

Revenue increased 32% to $14.48 billion. In the agribusiness division, which includes grain merchandising and processing, earnings increased 53% and revenue was up 30%.

Alberto Weisser, Bunge's chairman and chief executive officer said, "We posted good second quarter results. Agribusiness and food & ingredients did well in the quarter, and we anticipate a solid performance in these segments in the second half of the year. We also anticipate increased contributions from sugar & bioenergy and fertilizer, as these two businesses enter their high-volume seasons.

"The agribusiness and food markets are characterized by steady overall growth, as well as natural volatility due to weather and other factors. 2011 has not been an exception. Global trade in grains and oilseeds is robust, and with the Black Sea region recently reopened for exports, we expect to see additional shifts in trade flows as the world adjusts to a new supply and demand relationship among regions.

"With our global asset network and excellent risk management capabilities, we are well positioned to capture this growth and respond to these changes. The recent addition of our first deep water port terminal on the Black Sea, which scaled up operations in Ukraine during the second quarter, makes our network even stronger."

Results in the second quarter improved in most parts of the agribusiness chain when compared to last year. Large harvests in South America benefitted the grain business and oilseed processing operations in Brazil and Argentina. Performance in Europe and the U.S. improved compared to a challenging prior year period. Risk management strategies worked well, Bunge said.

Volume, while slightly higher in the quarter, continued to be impacted by lower merchandising and processing volumes in Europe due to the smaller crop production in the Black Sea region last year. Results in the quarter included a $37 million gain related to the sale of Bunge’s interest in a European oilseed processing facility joint venture.

Improved results in the quarter compared to last year came from sugarcane milling, which benefitted from higher sugar and ethanol prices and increased sales volume, as all mills were operating during the quarter. Merchandising experienced lower volumes and margins. The second quarter is typically the weakest period for this segment, as it marks the beginning of the sugarcane harvest in the Center-South of Brazil when the sugar content of the sugarcane is at its lowest level. Consequently, mills produce less sugar and ethanol per unit of sugarcane milled than they will in the second half of the year when the yield increases.

Edible oil products saw strong results in North America and Brazil primarily due to improved margins were partially offset by lower results in Europe, which experienced aggressive competition in certain markets. Second quarter 2010 results included $23 million of charges in our Brazilian business.

Milling products saw higher results in the quarter due to stronger margins in wheat and corn milling. Second quarter 2010 results included $8 million of charges in wheat milling.
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