ST. LOUIS — The transformation that began three years ago at Bunge Ltd. is creating the collaborative global culture that company executives believed would maximize the value of the company. It is this transformation that also helped guide the St. Louis-based company to strong fiscal 2021 results.
Bunge net income in the year ended Dec. 31, 2021, was $2.08 billion, equal to $13.64 per share on the common stock, up 80% from $1.16 billion, or $7.71 per share, in fiscal 2020. Sales in 2021 were $59.15 billion, up 43% from $41.4 billion. On an adjusted basis, earnings per share were $12.93 in 2021, up from $8.30 in 2020.
Shares of Bunge climbed to a 52-week high of $103.53 in mid-day trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Feb. 9, the day results were announced, before falling back to close at $99.60, down from the previous day’s close of $100.96.
In a Feb. 9 conference call with securities analysts, Gregory A. Heckman, chief executive officer of Bunge, said the company has begun to reap the rewards of a strategy that now has all areas of the company pulling in the same direction.
“Bunge had an industry-leading portfolio with assets in some of the best locations around the globe, but we also had individual assets and businesses that did not fit the company’s goal of growing our relevance with customers at both ends of the supply chain,” Mr. Heckman said. “And after a number of divestitures, we now have a footprint that’s stronger than ever and a solid base on which to grow.”
As an example of its solid base, Mr. Heckman pointed to the plant-based lipids platform that Bunge is building through the combination of Loders Croklaan and the legacy Bunge Oils business.
“The Loders tropical oils portfolio and innovation capabilities, supported by Bunge’s strength in supply chains and seed oils is a proposition that resonates with customers,” he said. “While the entire oils segment delivered a record year, 2021 was also the best year for the former Loders business.”
Mr. Heckman said Bunge has taken a similar methodical approach in evaluating how it can improve financial discipline within the organization.
“We’ve rewired our systems so we have better visibility to our data, and we used that information in a structured way to make better commercial, risk management and capital decisions,” he said.
Another area of success for Bunge has been the company’s leadership’s willingness to embrace the spirit of continuous improvement. Mr. Heckman said that during 2021 Bunge achieved records in total crush volume, refining performance and port volumes. The company also had more than 100 capital expenditure projects each exceeding $1 million.
Adjusted segment EBIT within the Agribusiness unit totaled $2.13 billion in 2021, up 22% from $1.74 billion in fiscal 2020. Fiscal 2021 results included a $35 million fixed asset impairment charge related to an oils facility in China. Net sales in the division increased 45% to $46.64 billion from $30.05 billion, while volumes were narrowly lower, easing to 142,013,000 tonnes from 143,054,000 tonnes.
In the Refined and Specialty Oils unit, adjusted segment EBIT totaled $534 million, up 82% from $294 million in fiscal 2020. Net sales in the division increased 39% to $13.33 billion from $9.6 billion. Volumes, meanwhile, were lower, falling to 9,202,000 tonnes from 9,529,000 tonnes.
Adjusted segment EBIT within the Milling unit was $86 million, down 12% from $98 million in fiscal 2020. Fiscal 2021 results included $170 million of impairment charges on the classification of the company’s Mexican wheat milling business as held-for-sale. Net sales in the division increased 18%, climbing to $1.91 billion from $1.62 billion. Volumes improved to 7,189,000 tonnes from 6,091,000 tonnes.In the fourth quarter of 2021, Bunge net income was $231 million, or $1.52 per share, down 59% from $559 million, or $3.74 per share, the year before. Sales were $16.68 billion, up 32% from $12.61 billion in the final quarter of 2020. Adjusted earnings per share were $3.49, up from $3.05.