Viterra earnings slip in quarter

by Eric Schroeder
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CALGARY, ALTA. — Net income at Viterra, Inc. in the third quarter ended July 31 fell to C$63,538,000 ($61,346,000), equal to C$0.17 per share on the common stock, down 47% from C$120,688,000, or C$0.51 per share, in the same period of fiscal 2009. The most recent quarterly results included C$63,706,000 in amortization costs and C$44,851,000 in financing expenses, which compared with C$26,800,000 and C$15,564,000, respectively, in the same period a year ago.

Sales and other operating revenues rose 12% to C$2,495,451,000 ($2,409,397,000) from C$2,222,428,000, boosted in part by contributions from Viterra Australia, which helped offset lower third-quarter Agri-products sales in North America.

“Our results this quarter are in line with our July 8 seeded acreage update,” said Mayo Schmidt, president and chief executive officer. “While spring conditions in Western Canada were far from ideal, yields on existing crops are encouraging. It is our view that given current yield projections from field staff, western Canadian production could be in the 44-million to 45-million tonne range compared to the 10-year average of approximately 49 million to 50 million tonnes. In order to achieve these results, the Canadian Prairies will require frost-free days in September and good harvest conditions well into October. For the Australian business, strengthening commodity prices provided the foundation for growers to price and move their grain through the system, and we expect to see that continue over the next several quarters. Clearly our diversification strategy has worked to improve our risk profile and reduce our dependency on one geography.”

North American grain shipments during the third quarter totaled 4.4 million tonnes, down from 4.7 million tonnes during the same period of fiscal 2009.

Grain Handling and Marketing EBITDA in the third quarter rose 47% to C$100,853,000 from C$68,753,000, while sales increased 33% to C$1,470,011,000 from C$1,103,853,000.

Within the Agri-products segment, EBITDA was C$105,750,000, down from C$147,491,000. Sales in the sector totaled C$818,900,000, down 13% from C$943,257,000.

The Processing segment posted EBITDA of C$21,943,000 in the third quarter, up sharply from C$9,711,000 in the same period a year ago. Sales also rose, climbing 62% to C$330,833,000. Viterra said the gains reflected new contributions from recently acquired Dakota Growers Pasta, as well as the company’s Australian malt business, Viterra’s canola crush plant and the addition of a New Zealand feed business.

For the nine months ended July 31, net income totaled C$92,601,000 ($89,387,000), or C$0.25 per share, down 19% from C$114,047,000, or C$0.48 per share, in the same period a year ago. Sales and other operating revenues were C$6,329,339,000 ($6,109,065,000), up 21% from C$5,212,217,000.

Looking ahead, Mr. Schmidt said Viterra expects to move beyond the cyclical lows experienced in 2009.

“Recent weather events around the globe, most notably in Russia and the Black Sea, have led to strengthening prices, placing us in a good position as we prepare for next year,” Mr. Schmidt said. “Over the past several weeks, we have seen significant transaction activity within the industry as participants look to take advantage of growing consumer demand. Viterra’s consolidation and expansion initiatives over the past three years allowed us to secure a foothold in leading countries of origin in advance of some of our competitors. Global agriculture has once again taken center stage, driven by the solid long-term fundamentals that underpin the growth prospects for agricultural production and demand around the world.”

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