Cargill facility
Ratings agency cites company’s efforts to reducing earnings volatility.

MINNEAPOLIS — New long-term debt notes issued by Cargill have been issued an “A” senior unsecured debt rating by Standard & Poor’s. The S.&P. rating applies to a debt issue of $602.4 million 4.76% senior unsecured notes due in 2045. The notes were offered as an exchange in an initiative to refinance outstanding notes of varying maturities. No cash was received by Cargill as part of the exchange offers.

S.&P. estimated total Cargill debt as of Aug. 31 at $11.9 billion.

“Our ‘A’ corporate credit rating on Cargill reflects its global leadership in agribusiness, the strength of its distribution footprint, and the company’s very strong geographic diversity,” S.&P. said. “Still, we recognize that earnings generation can be volatile, in part related to the company’s trading activities. We believe management is trying to reduce this volatility by ending certain trading and investment management activities that are not essential to its underlying trade flows, which include corn, wheat, soybeans, and, to a lesser degree, crude oil and other metals. In addition, we expect management’s strategic initiatives, including a global shared-service initiative and strategic review of its portfolio of businesses, will improve and possibly refocus the company’s operating execution and restore organic earnings growth.”

Elaborating on Cargill’s near-term credit picture, S.&P. said it expects the company to maintain a debt-to-EBITDA ratio significantly beneath 1.5 times while the company is actively reviewing the portfolio mix of its businesses. Explaining this figure, S.&P. said it nets a portion of the company’s debt balances against readily marketing inventories the company physically trades.