WHITE PLAINS, NEW YORK, U.S. — Bunge reported on April 25 net income available to common shareholders increased to $170 million or $1.15 per share for the first quarter from $84 million and 57¢ per share a year ago.
Earnings from continuing operations increased to $1.21 to 81¢. Net sales increased to $14.79 billion from $12.91 billion in the previous year.
“We had a solid first quarter. Our agribusiness team performed well, managing risk in a volatile market environment characterized by tight global supplies and challenging Brazilian logistics. We are pleased to see sugar & bioenergy get off to a good start to the year, and that food & ingredients continued its strong performance from the second half of last year,” said Alberto Weisser, Bunge’s chairman and chief executive officer.
Improved oilseed processing results in the quarter were more than offset by lower results in grain merchandising. Bunge said its merchandising business benefited from strong global demand for Brazilian corn and soybean exports; however, lower grain origination in Argentina and the Northern Hemisphere due to tight supplies adversely impacted results.
Soybean processing was higher in all geographies with the largest contribution coming from the U.S., which benefited from strong export demand due to tight supplies and delays in South American harvests. Results in softseed processing in Canada and Europe were lower due to margin pressure from weather-related supply shortages and slow farmer selling.
The first quarter is the inter-harvest in Brazil when sugarcane mills in the Center-South region typically do not operate until the end of the quarter, and are selling sugar and ethanol inventories from the previous sugarcane harvest. Results were higher in the quarter due to improved performance in all parts of the segment. Sugarcane milling benefited from the combination of lower inventory costs and higher average ethanol prices. Due to heavy rains during the month, the startup of some of our mills was postponed. This weather delay will have a positive impact on the development of the sugarcane, but a portion of the start-up costs associated with the mills will shift to the second quarter.
Trading & merchandising benefited from higher volumes and margins on export programs and good risk management. U.S. biofuels benefited from higher results in Bunge’s ethanol joint venture due to improved margins.
Higher results in the quarter were primarily due to improved performance in Brazil, which experienced a challenging prior-year period, and in India, which more than offset lower results in North America and Europe.
“Looking ahead, agribusiness markets are transitioning from ones of tightness to more comfortable supplies. Customer inventory pipelines are lean and in need of restocking, so demand should remain strong,” Weisser said. “Farmers in South America responded with record production and farmers in the Northern Hemisphere are expected to respond similarly. The logistics congestion in Brazil is improving, but delays will continue to persist until the U.S. harvest later this year. We see positive signs in sugar & bioenergy as the weather in the Center-South of Brazil has been ideal for cane development and early readings of ATR, the sugar content in the cane, are on track to return to more normal levels. We expect food & ingredients results to continue to improve throughout the year.”