CHS headquarters
ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA, U.S. — CHS, Inc. sustained a 14% drop in earnings for the first quarter ended Nov. 30, 2017, in part due to weaker results in its Ag segment.

The company’s net income was $180.1 million, which compared with $209.2 million in the same period a year ago.

Revenues for the first quarter were $8 billion, the same as 2017. Pretax income totaled $199.6 million for the first quarter of 2018, which compared with $225.6 million a year ago.

“Despite challenging market conditions, CHS experienced a solid first quarter thanks to our continued focus on three key priorities: strengthening relationships, sharpening operational excellence and restoring financial flexibility,” said Jay Debertin, president and chief executive officer of CHS.

Earnings before income taxes for the Ag segment was down 32% to $74.5 million reflecting lower grain volumes and associated margins; a decrease in processing and food ingredients; and a drop in renewable fuels and marketing and production operations.

The decrease partially was offset by an improvement in country operations due to a gain from the sale of a North American location, a gain on the sale of a domestic investment and recovery of a loan that was written off in the prior fiscal year.

Revenue for the ag segment dropped $349.6 million to $6.1 billion reflecting a 7% decline in grain and oilseed revenue.

Wheat, corn and soybean volumes decreased by about 8% compared to last year due to lower exports caused by increased global competition.

Processing and food ingredient revenue fell $26.8 million, primarily due to a $11.7 million decline from the prior-year sale of an international location as well as a decline in volumes.

Wholesale crop nutrient revenues attributable to crop nutrients and grain marketing were down $3.9 million. Lower average fertilizer selling prices were partially offset by higher volumes.

Renewable fuels revenue was down $13.7 million primarily because of lower selling prices.

Remaining Ag segment revenues related to feed and farm supplies increased $26.5 million mainly due to increases in diesel sales and propane related to colder temperatures.

While Ag was down, the Energy segment posted pretax income of $113.1 million, which compared with $70 million a year earlier. The increase was primarily driven by improved margins in refined fuels.

CHS also reduced its long-term debt by $172 million by monetizing certain assets and actively managing cash flow.