Bunge EBIT drops despite strong soy processing margins

by Jeff Gelski
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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) slipped in both the fiscal year and the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 2014, for Bunge, Ltd. The declines happened companywide and for Bunge’s Agribusiness segment.

“In Agribusiness we managed margins and flows well for the (fourth) quarter, and our risk management approach was modest,” said Soren Schroder, chief executive officer of White Plains-based Bunge, in a Feb. 12 earnings call. “Our North American and European operations performed exceptionally well, capitalizing on strong soy processing margins and executing large export programs. Grain origination had an excellent quarter in North America on the back of big crops and strong export demand.”

Crop performance in China, however, negatively impacted the fourth quarter, he said.

“While underlying demand for protein and oil continues to grow at a strong pace in China, industry capacity has grown just as quickly, leading to margin pressures that negatively impacted results throughout 2014,” Mr. Schroder said.

Bunge recorded EBIT of $1,080 million in the fiscal year, which was down from $1,329 million in the previous fiscal year. Net income of $659 million, or $4.15 per common share, compared with $306 million, or $1.55 per common share, in the previous fiscal year. Net sales of $57,828 million were down from $61,347 million.

In Agribusiness, EBIT of $890 million was down from $1,032 million. Net sales of $42,775 million were down from $45,507 million.

In Edible Oil Products, EBIT of $156 million was down from $163 million. Net sales of $7,973 million were down from $9,165 million.

In Milling Products, EBIT of $145 million was up from $125 million. Net sales of $2,063 million were up from $2,012 million.

In Sugar & Bioenergy, a loss of $156 million in the fiscal year compared with a loss of $60 million in the previous fiscal year. Net sales of $4,543 million were up from $4,215 million.

In Fertilizer, EBIT of $45 million was down from $69 million. Net sales of $474 million were up from $448 million.

For the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 2014, Bunge companywide had EBIT of $271 million, down from $396 million in the previous year’s fourth quarter. Fourth-quarter net income of $90 million, or 56c per common share, was down from $138 million, or 78c per common share. Net sales of $13,898 million were down from $16,375 million.

In fiscal year 2015, Bunge expects depreciation, depletion and amortization of about $635 million; capital expenditures of about $875 million; and a full-year tax rate of about 25%, said Drew Burke, chief financial officer.

“Overall, agribusiness market conditions remain favorable as big supplies are met with solid underlying demand,” Mr. Burke said in the Feb. 12 earnings call. “Large crops in both hemispheres and lower prices have increased consumption and trade flows. In oilseeds the U.S.D.A. is projecting 5% demand growth for soy meal and vegetable oil. The U.S. supply position is good, and we are expecting large crops in South America. U.S. and European soy crush margins remain strong, and plant utilization should remain high until South American new crop comes to market.”
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