MAUMEE, OHIO, U.S. — Accounting adjustments related to the acquisition of Lansing Trade Group adversely affected first-quarter financials at The Andersons, Inc., but company executives remain pleased about the progress being made with the integration.
The Andersons sustained a loss of $13.993 million in the first quarter ended March 31, which compared with a loss of $1.7 million in the same period a year ago. The most recent quarterly results included a $5.4 million income tax benefit, which compared with $310,000 in such benefits a year ago. The Andersons posted an adjusted loss of $5.3 million, which included adjustments of $8.7 million of expenses related to the Lansing Trade Group acquisition, which closed in early January.
Revenue for the quarter was $2.079 billion, up 227% from $635.7 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2018. Sales were boosted by the addition of Lansing Trade Group and Thompsons Ltd.
“Our new team and assets are both performing well, especially considering the difficult grain market conditions,” said Patrick E. Bowe, president and chief executive officer, during a May 7 conference call with analysts. “We began managing our commodity positions on a combined basis on day 1 and the level and extent of market and customer information being shared by our team is exactly what we need to capture the top-line synergies we know are available. We’re also making great progress toward identifying and capturing the $10 million in run rate expense synergies we promised to deliver by the end of next year.
“Having made these comments about our Trade Group, the market backdrop was difficult for most of our groups during the quarter, and those conditions contributed to some disappointing results.”
The Trade Group, which includes the consolidated operating results of both Lansing and Thompsons, sustained a pretax loss of $17.5 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2019. This compared with a loss of $1.2 million in the same period a year ago.
Revenues rose sharply to $1.7 billion from $276 million a year ago.
“The Trade Group is already well on its way to capturing $10 million in run rate expense synergies and we should see those begin to positively impact our results later this year,” Bowe said. “We remain confident that the Lansing acquisition will be accretive to 2019 earnings on an operating basis. That said, it would help greatly if some of the several macroeconomic factors hurting this industry would turn in our favor. We’re watching the weather patterns closely regarding the planting progress. The market is becoming increasingly concerned about corn planting across the Midwest. Continued wet weather will further narrow the planting season, which put forth some amount of switching from corn to soybeans. Resolution to the U.S. trade dispute with China would bring activity that should provide additional exports and volatility to the ag markets. And with the world oversupply of corn and soybeans, another crop on the way soon and expanded CME storage rates coming late this year, the value of our grain storage capacity should remain strong.”
The company’s pretax income for its Ethanol Group was $2.6 million, down from $3.1 million in 2018. Ethanol’s revenue rose to $208.9 million from $173.7 million in the same period a year ago.
Bowe said the Ethanol Group is off to a “good start” considering the continued difficult margin environment.
“As we entered the quarter, the group had hedged more than 40% from its second-quarter production at acceptable margins,” he said. “While the pace of U.S. exports has been strong so far, we believe full-year 2019 exports could fall short of 2018 results without resolution of the U.S.-China trade dispute. Resolution would likely re-open Chinese imports of ethanol and DDGs. The anticipated approval in the next several weeks of year-round E15 sales should improve demand somewhat in 2019, and we believe it will become significantly more meaningful in future years.”
Bowe said all four of the company’s ethanol plants continue to operate well, with the Element plant expected to be fully operational by the end of the year.
The Andersons Plant Nutrient Group sustained a loss of $3.9 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2019, which compared with income of $1.1 million a year ago. Revenue for the quarter was $128.5 million, down 5.3% from $135.6 million in the same period a year ago.
“After an improved 2018, our Plant Nutrient Group results are below what we plan for them to be early in the year,” Bowe said. “The group will be challenged to make up the significant ground that we lost in the first quarter before year end, especially if fields don’t dry soon. Quite simply, as the wet weather persists across much of our market area, we are concerned that farmers may not have time or an inclination to use as much fertilizer as we anticipated in the face of continuing low grain prices.”
The Rail Group’s pretax income for the first quarter was $4.3 million, up 9% from $3.9 million. Rail revenue fell to $41.4 million from $50.4 million in 2018.
“The Rail Group’s leasing business results should continue to improve year-over-year,” he said. “While overall economic and carload demand remains strong, the group also sees weakness in select markets. In addition, the group expects that renewal rates on the railcars and many of its expiring leases will be lower, even if its current market rates continue to slowly improve.”