ADM scores sharp earnings gain in fiscal '14

by Eric Schroeder
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DECATUR, ILL. — Fiscal 2014 was a successful year for Archer Daniels Midland Co., as the company was able to churn out a sharp increase in earnings over fiscal 2013. Net earnings attributable to ADM in the year ended Dec. 31, 2014, were $2,248 million, equal to $3.43 per share on the common stock, up 68% from $1,342 million, or $2.02 per share, in fiscal 2013. Revenues for the year were $81,201 million, down 10% from $89,804 million in the same period a year ago.

“2014 was another solid year from our Oilseeds business, demonstrating the strength and diversity of the portfolio in delivering consistent results,” Juan Luciano, president and chief executive officer, said during a Feb. 3 conference call with analysts. “The Corn business showed the value of managing the business with overall results. In 2014 they delivered their best operating profit ever. And Ag Services demonstrated a strong recovery from the prior year, aided by a turnaround of international merchandising results and good execution by the team to fully capitalize on a more favorable environment. I am very proud of all the team was able to accomplish this year.”

Strong grain exports following a record-large U.S. harvest and good soy processing margins in North America and Europe propelled results higher in the fourth quarter.

Net earnings attributable to ADM of $701 million, or $1.08 per share, in the fourth quarter compared with $374 million, or 56c per share, in the fourth quarter of the previous fiscal year. ADM said adjusted earnings per share in the fourth quarter were $1, up from 95c in the previous year’s fourth quarter. Revenues in the fourth quarter were $20,894 million, down from $24,143 million.

Corn processing in fiscal 2014 had operating profit of $1,188 million, up 46% from $814 million in the previous fiscal year. Within the unit, bioproducts profit increased 83% during the year to $697 million, while sweeteners and starches fell 7% to $481 million.

Oilseeds processing in the fiscal year had operating profit of $1,605 million, up from $1,473 million in fiscal 2013. Refining, packaging, biodiesel and other generated a profit of $479 million in the year, up from $454 million a year ago. Cocoa and other also turned in a profit, of $109 million, which compared with a loss of $20 million in fiscal 2013.

Operating profit in the fiscal year also increased for agricultural services, rising to $1,089 million from $380 million.

Separate from its earnings release, ADM on Feb. 3 said it has reached an agreement to sell a 50% stake in its export terminal in Barcelona to Glencore P.L.C. The ADM-Glencore joint venture that will own and operate the facility following the transaction also plans to quadruple the terminal’s capacity from 1.5 million tonnes to 6 million tonnes.

“ADM is continuing to take actions to improve our returns on invested capital,” Mr. Luciano said. “One of the ways we’re doing this is by taking an asset-light approach where it makes sense. This agreement will both quadruple the capacity and increase the utilization of this strategically located port facility, enhancing our ability to serve the expanding Brazilian ag sector. And by sharing the investment with a partner, we are able to do all of this in a cost- and capital-efficient way.”

In addition to its increased capacity, the upgraded terminal will be able to handle larger Panamax vessels, allowing the joint venture partners to connect global markets more efficiently.

Mr. Luciano also said during the conference call that ADM’s efforts to improve returns involve investing to grow the business.

“In November we began production at our sweetener plant in Tianjin, China,” he said. “Construction continues an our fiber plant in Tianjin, China, our feed premix plant in Nanjing, China and our specialty protein complex and Campo Grande, Brazil. The expansion of our Fibersol production capacity at Clinton, Iowa, is on schedule to be operational midyear. And our non-G.M.O. lecithin projects in Hamburg, Germany, and Latur, India, should be operational in March and July, respectively. We continue to take actions to further improve the business and, as you can see, that is reflected in our returns.”

ADM’s board of directors has declared a quarterly cash dividend of 28c per share on the company’s common stock, an increase of approximately 17% from the prior quarterly rate, resulting in estimated annual dividend payments of $0.7 billion in 2015.

The dividend is payable on March 10, 2015, to shareholders of record at the close of business on Feb. 17, 2015. As of Dec. 31, 2014, there were 636,704,061 shares of ADM common stock outstanding.

The company expects 2015 capital expenditures of between $1.1 billion and $1.3 billion.
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