ADM net falls 60% on tough corn processing results

by Eric Schroeder
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DECATUR, ILL. — Oilseeds results were strong, but the Corn Processing segment struggled, leading to a decline in earnings at Archer Daniels Midland Co. Net income in the first quarter ended Sept. 30 fell 60% to $182 million, equal to 28c per share on the common stock, down from $460 million, or 68c per share, in the first quarter of fiscal 2012. ADM’s adjusted earnings per share was 50c, primarily reflecting a 16c per share charge related to the company’s planned divestment of Gruma.

Net sales in the first quarter were $21,808 million, down narrowly from $21,902 million in the same period a year ago.

“Our first-quarter segment results were mixed,” said Patricia Woertz, chairman and chief executive officer. “Oilseeds performance was strong, the ethanol industry experienced sustained negative margins, and Agricultural Services managed well through a complicated quarter, challenged by the drought.

“During the first quarter, we focused on actions that will improve returns. We made progress in our ongoing portfolio management efforts. And I’m proud of our efforts and the results of our work to reduce costs and capital.

“As we look ahead to 2013, we are bringing on-line our large Paraguay soybean processing plant as South American farmers are responding to market conditions with record plantings, and we are implementing plans to navigate the tight U.S. crop supply.

“Longer term, we remain optimistic as we see continued growth in global demand for protein meal and other agricultural products. We continue to execute our strategy, aligning our business to serve rising demand from customers around the world.”

Corn Processing results were weak in the quarter on continued ethanol industry challenges, ADM said. Operating profit for the segment during the quarter was $68 million, down 63% from $183 million a year ago. Net sales and other operating income in the segment fell 5% to $3,126 million from $3,293 million. Within the segment, sweeteners and starches profit rose sharply to $94 million from $30 million, but bioproducts suffered a loss of $26 million after posting a profit of $153 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2012.

ADM’s Oilseeds Processing segment improved across all regions, and overall the segment posted a profit of $336 million, up 53% from $220 million. Sales and other operating income in the segment rose 7% to $9,688 million. ADM said cocoa and other results increased $27 million during the quarter, as weaker cocoa press margins were offset by the absence of last year’s significant negative mark-to-market impacts.

The company’s Agricultural Services segment posted an operating profit of $78 million, down 76% from $323 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2012. Sales and other operating income in the segment fell 6% to $8,956 million from $9,510 million. ADM noted that milling and other results increased $11 million, excluding the Gruma charge.

The ADM Other segment, which sustained a loss of $5 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2012, recorded an operating profit of $16 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2013. Sales and other operating income in the segment rose 36% to $38 million from $28 million.
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