Bunge lowers QI income forecasts

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Futures contract, Better

Ingredients group Bunge has lowered its first quarter earnings
forecast, announcing that lower than expected agribusiness results
will drag down net income for the period.

However, the leading oilseed and agricultural firm said it still expects to meet its previously announced income forecasts for the full year of $590m to $610m. "During the first quarter the value of the physical cash commodity markets did not mirror the increase in value in the futures markets, which we use to hedge our commodity inventories and forward purchases. This resulted in unrealized mark- to-market losses,"​ said Alberto Weisser, Bunge chairman and chief executive officer. "Earnings can shift among quarters in our industry, so we view our business on an annual basis. Market fundamentals are solid, and we expect to achieve our forecasted full year results." However, net income for the first quarter is expected to be near breakeven. Bunge will announce its first quarter results on Thursday, April 26, 2007.​ In February, the firm announced total sales for 2006 of $26.3bn, representing an 8 percent increase from the previous year. Income for the year still saw a 2 percent decline to $521m, from $530m last year. But Bunge remained optimistic about its performance, saying it expected 2007 to be a year of "improved earnings"​ after facing a sharp hit to profits last year due to a tough operating environment in Brazil. Wide-reaching reorganization efforts and improvements in the Brazilian market resulted in Bunge stabilizing its business in its second half 2006 financial year, despite a continued moderate dip in volumes. According to Weisser, the company still faces certain challenges in Brazil, such as the strong real, but large new corn and soybean crops and continued government support have improved farm economics in the country. "Steps taken in late 2005 and early 2006 to restructure our Brazilian businesses, lower costs and enhance our foreign currency risk management should position Bunge to benefit from improving Brazilian market conditions,"​ he said in February. The firm is also focusing on building up a "balanced, global business"​ that will enable it to better cope with future challenging periods as they occur.

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