Bunge Q2 profits soar, edible oils still volatile

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Bunge Vegetable fats and oils Cooking oil

Agricultural and food ingredient firm Bunge has reported solid
growth in its second quarter and half year performance, indicating
that the firm could be getting back on track after a difficult

The company yesterday announced a 65 percent increase in overall net sales for the quarter ended June 300 2007 to $9.9bn up from $6bn a year earlier. Net income shot up 460 percent to $168m compared to $30 last year. The results follow a tough first quarter, in which Bunge reported a slump in net income of almost 80 percent, primarily due to unrealized mark-to-market losses. According to Bunge's chairman and chief executive officer Alberto Weisser, the strong second quarter performance was driven by a "good performance"​ in the firm's agribusiness, and "outstanding"​ results in its fertilizer operations. "While futures prices for soybeans and grains have been volatile, industry fundamentals are solid,"​ he said. Edible oils results declined primarily due to weaker performance in Europe, which was negatively impacted by higher raw material costs that were difficult to pass on to customers and higher sales and marketing expenses, said the firm. In Brazil, stronger packaged oil results were driven by higher volumes and margins. "Demand for protein meal and vegetable oil continues to grow; however, in some cases it has been difficult to pass higher edible oil prices on to customers. We expect good global harvests, with some exceptions in Europe, and large crop plantings in South America,"​ said Weisser. Bunge's Agribusiness division experienced a strong quarter compared to a loss in the same period last year. Results benefited from improved oilseed processing margins and strong international marketing results. Bunge said its risk management strategies worked well in the segment, and it recovered a portion of the mark-to-market losses incurred in the first quarter on our agricultural commodity inventories and forward purchase contracts. Lower results in the Milling Products segment were due to higher raw material and operating costs in wheat milling. According to Weisser, high futures prices and acreage shifts in favor of corn in the United States reflect the influence of current and expected demand from the biofuels industry. "Higher prices are beneficial for farmers worldwide and are particularly important in Brazil, where they have largely offset the negative impacts of a stronger local currency and increased crop input costs. While soybean farmers in that country continue to face high debt levels and operating costs, the market is helping to return them to better levels of profitability. This has been reflected in the increased demand for fertilizer seen in the first half of this year."​The firm says it has taken a number of steps in the past months to improve its business. Last week, Bunge finalized the acquisition of an oilseed processing plant and a portfolio of edible oil brands in Romania. The company says the move was part of a larger strategy to improve the efficiency and growth position of its business in Southeast Europe. Just yesterday, Bunge also announced the creation of a joint venture with Sinograin, which manages China's central grain and edible oil reserves, to build its fourth soybean processing plant in that nation.

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