Weak grain margins weigh on second quarter earnings at ADM

by Holly Demaree
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ADM grain silos
ADM revenues for the second quarter were $15,629 million, down 9% from $17,186 million in the same period a year ago.

CHICAGO — Net earnings at Archer Daniels Midland Co. in the second quarter ended June 30 totaled $284 million, equal to 48c per share on the common stock, down 26% from $386 million, or 62c per share, in the same period of last year.

Revenues for the second quarter were $15,629 million, down 9% from $17,186 million in the same period a year ago.

Juan Luciano, ADM
Juan Luciano, chairman and c.e.o. of ADM

“After a challenging start of the year, general market conditions began to turn at the end of the second quarter, providing us with improved opportunities for the second half of the year,” Juan Luciano, chairman and chief executive officer, said during an Aug. 2 conference call with analysts. “Weak grain handling margins and merchandising results continued for Ag Services. Results for corn, including the strong performance in sweeteners and starches, offset by lower ethanol results. Our oilseeds operations leveraged their flex capacity to crush record volumes of soybeans in the second quarter as global protein demand continues to grow.”

Mr. Luciano said Wild Flavors and Specialty Ingredients (WFSI) saw strong growth in flavors and systems with operating profit in line with the year-ago quarter. During the quarter, ADM continued to advance its strategic plan, acquiring full ownership of Amazon Flavors, a Brazilian manufacturer of natural extracts, emulsions and compounds, Mr. Luciano said.

He said the company also added soybean crushing capability to its facility in Straubing, Germany, which allowed ADM to utilize flex capacity while also meeting growing customer demand for non-bioengineered soybean meal and oil in Western Europe.

ADM Straubing, Germany facility
ADM recently added soybean crushing capability to its facility in Straubing, Germany.

“We continued to invest in Asia’s growing and evolving food demand by further increasing our strategic ownership stake in Wilmar from 20% to 22%,” Mr. Luciano said. “In addition, we continue to make progress in the strategic review of our ethanol dry mills. We have implemented almost $150 million of new run rate savings actions in the first half of the year and remain on track to meet our $275 million target by the end of the calendar year. Also, we repurchased about $500 million of shares in the first half as we continue to execute on our balanced capital allocation framework.”

Operating profit in the Agricultural Services segment was $97 million in the second quarter, down from $152 million in the year-ago quarter. Merchandising and handling earnings sustained a loss of $14 million, which compared with a gain of $41 million a year ago. The decline was primarily due to compressed margins across the U.S. grain handling network. Excluding the valuation gain booked last year related to the acquisition of the company’s Romanian port, international merchandising results were up due to stronger origination results in Argentina and the addition of destination marketing in Egypt through the Medsofts joint venture, ADM said.

Transportation results fell to $15 million from $19 million, due to weak barge demand and lower freight rates.

In Milling and other, ADM Milling had a strong second quarter on solid volumes and margins, but operating profit for the second quarter was $56 million, down from $67 million in the same period of last year.

Corn Processing operating profit increased to $219 million from $204 million. Within the segment, sweeteners and starches results increased to $182 million from $145 million as the business continued to perform well with higher volumes and pricing, and improved margins from optimizing product grind in the company’s corn wet mills. The integration of the recent Eaststarch and Morocco acquisitions has gone better than planned, contributing to the company’s global sweeteners and starches portfolio and results, ADM said.

Bioproducts sustained a loss of $19 million, which compared with a gain of $43 million in the same quarter of last year. With ethanol margins continuing to be weak coming into the quarter due to high industry inventory levels, the company decreased production.

Oilseeds operating profit for the second quarter was $234 million, down sharply from $344 million in the year-ago quarter.

Crushing and origination operating profit was $135 million, which compared with $198 million the year before. The decline was driven primarily by continued weak canola margins as well as lower soy crush margins, which were historically high last year. The company achieved record soy crush volumes in North America and Europe through increased utilization of new flex capacity. Throughout the quarter, the company effectively managed through unprecedented crush margin volatility, ADM said.

Refining, packaging, biodiesel and other results fell 18% mainly due to biodiesel timing effects, despite strong results in Specialty Fats and Oils and Golden Peanut, ADM said.

Oilseeds results in Asia for the quarter improved slightly from the year-ago period, partially due to Wilmar International’s first-quarter equity earnings. 
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