MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA, US — A late harvest that led to lower volumes played a key part in a first-quarter loss at Ceres Global Ag Corp. Challenging market conditions — including the ongoing conflict in Ukraine — also were a factor.
Ceres sustained a loss of $3.59 million in the first quarter ended Sept. 30, which compared with net income of $8.77 million, equal to 28¢ per share on the common stock, in the same period a year ago. Adjusted net income, though, was $337 million, which compared with $9.76 million a year ago.
Revenue in the first quarter of fiscal 2022 was $260.11 million, up 25% from $208.37 million in the same period a year ago. The increase reflected an increase in prices of specific core commodities compared with the same quarter last year, the company said.
Ceres said it handled 28.3 million bushels of grain and oilseed in the quarter, down from 31.6 million bushels in the same period a year ago.
“In our Grain segment, the volumes handled by Ceres dropped by 11% compared to Q1 last year,” Carlos Esteban Paz, president and chief executive officer, said during a Nov. 7 conference call with analysts. “This quarter, we saw the effect of the late planting, leading to a later-than-normal harvest and the realized effects of extremely low inventories from last year’s unprecedented drought. While this factor resulted in reduced volume handled during the quarter, we remain optimistic that farmer sales and handle volumes will increase during Q2.
“Meanwhile, railroad interruptions during the harvest season created logistical challenges and added complexity to merchandising grain. While we have loaded several Canadian Pacific unit trains through the expansion at Thief River Falls (Minnesota), North American rail service significantly declined this quarter, resulting in challenges in shipping products that originated from our farmer partners. We continue to work diligently to resolve rail service issues and expect to surpass the volume handle at Thief River Falls for this crop year.”
Paz, who took over as president and CEO on Aug. 23, said Ceres was “pleased to see resilience” in its northern tier crops in Canada and the United States during the first quarter. He noted the northern tier crops delivered better-than-expected yields, resulting in higher production and more product for Ceres to handle and merchandise during the remainder of the fiscal year.
“We have significantly increased our direct access to growers and the ability to increase origination of core products through our partnerships with Berthold Farmers Elevator and our joint venture with the Farmers Grain in Thief River Falls, Minnesota,” he said. “We will continue to leverage these partnerships to offer regenerative ag solutions to our strategic customers and to generate attractive margins. Demand for both soybean meal and oil remains strong, which should contribute to attractive gross margin environment for our plant in Manitoba.
“We also opened new markets in the renewable and biodiesel sector in the US, which we expect will continue to contribute to better demand for oil produced in the coming quarters. We are seeing industrial products and fertilizer volumes increase and expect the demand for natural gas liquid to remain strong as crude oil prices stay high.
“We have invested in our infrastructure and are able to capitalize on this demand through our Gateway Energy Terminal. As previously announced, we are committed to realizing the full value of our assets and acquisitions in order to meet the demand for our core products. As part of this strategy, we will continue to focus on maximizing trading and merchandising opportunities and developing a regenerative ag and supply chain solutions for our strategic customers.”