Bunge eyes further profit push in 2008

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Vegetable fats and oils Better Bunge

Bunge posted a 71 percent increase in full year earnings amounting
to $44bn on the back of strong global demand for its edible oils
and commodity products, a pattern it expects to continue into 2008.

The agriculture and food ingredients firm said that operating profit for the year reached $1.1bn, a 162 percent improvement over the same period the previous year. Operating margins for the period rose slightly by 0.7 percentage points to 2.6 percent over the period, with further profit expected during 2008, said group chairman Alberto Weisser. "The USDA forecasts higher global protein meal and vegetable oil demand, as well as strong demand for and trade in other agricultural commodities,"​ he stated. "Crop prices should remain high, promoting input purchases by farmers."​ However, Weisser stressed that not all market conditions were expected to be beneficial to Bunge's operations in the upcoming year. A strong Brazilian real is expected to put further cost pressures on the company's operations in the country, with higher commodity prices also predicted to prove detrimental to the company's fertiliser and edible oils operations, according to Weisser. Fourth quarter​ During the final quarter of fiscal 2007, Bunge recorded an 82 percent increase in sales to $14bn, A 77 percent increase in net operating profit to $340m, was also recorded, due in part to ongoing restructuring drives, the company said. "In 2007, the agribusiness and fertilizer markets were characterized by improved structural conditions,"​ stated Weisser. "Demand for Bunge's end products grew and farm economics inBrazilstrengthened."Agribusiness ​In terms of Bunge's agribusiness operations, the company said it had profited from improved margins and sales volumes in its grain operations, combined with a higher output from oilseed processing. ​The group added that it had also incurred an $25m charge for the segment relating to restructuring its operations in Europe to improve efficiency within the east of the bloc. Edible oils ​ In terms of edible oils, improved margins from the segment were offset by higher operating expenses resulting from investments in the company's Asian and European markets. During the fourth-quarter, Bunge said the division faced $29m in charges relating mainly to impairments and restructuring due to the closing of its edible oil facilities in Eastern Europe. Milling ​For its milling operations, the benefits of improved corn milling techniques were again offset by raw material and other operating costs. Charges incurred over the period totalled $13m from impairments from closing a wheat milling plant in Brazil, which is to be replaced with a newer facility by the end of the year. Fertilisers ​ The company said that the higher international prices for fertilizers allowed it to record margin improvements within the sector over the quarter. This growth occurred despite a predicted slow down during the three-month period, the company said.

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