Viterra more than doubles Q2 profit ahead of Glencore takeover


Canadian grain handler Viterra (TSE:VT) said Tuesday second-quarter net income popped as all three business segments reported improved results in the latest period.

Net earnings more than doubled to $67.1 million, or 18 cents per share, for the quarter that ended April 30. That compared with a year-prior profit of $30.1 million, or eight cents per share.

The latest results beat a consensus estimate of 12 cents per share compiled by Thomson Reuters.

The company, which is close to being acquired by Swiss commodities trader Glencore (LON:GLEN), said its adjusted earnings rose to $185 million in the most recent quarter, up 43 per cent from a year earlier.

Its grain handling and marketing segment, which is its top line performer, saw revenue climb to $2.7 billion from $2 billion a year earlier. The unit’s gross margin narrowed to 9.1 percent from 10.4 percent.

North American shipments reached 4,288 tonnes, up from the 3,652 tonnes shipped a year-earlier.

The company’s agri-products division recorded sales of $691 million from $433 million in the year-ago period. The segment’s fertilizer margins averaged $113.51 per tonne in the second quarter, compared to $108.76 per tonne in the prior year.

Fertilizer volumes rose to 441 tonnes, up from the 279 tonnes recorded in 2011.

Viterra's processing segment – which makes and markets food products made from oats, canola and malt barley – posted revenue of $326 million versus $231.1 million in the second quarter of 2011.

Looking ahead, the company expects shipments in South Australia to be strong throughout the year, given the volume of grain in its system and solid demand from key export markets.

For its agri-products unit, the company raised its fertilizer margin guidance to $120 to $140 per tonne. This is up from its prior prediction of $115 to $135 per tonne.

It expects demand and pricing for fertilizer to remain strong as the spring season progresses due to strong agri-commodity pricing and increased seeded acreage in Western Canada.

"Viterra continues to deliver robust results, demonstrating the strength of the company's integrated business model and dedicated employees around the world," chief executive Mayo Schmidt said in a statement.

"Viterra's value has been recognized by agricultural peers with the recent acquisition interest and the significant premium being paid by Glencore to acquire the company."

Indeed, Viterra agreed to be bought by Glencore for $16.25 per share, which represented a premium of 48 per cent to its closing price on March 8, the last trading day prior to the deal's announcement.

Shareholders at the Canadian agribusiness voted in favour of the deal in May, and the Ontario Superior Court of Justice have already approved the friendly takeover.

Last week, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission – which promotes fair trade for both businesses and consumers – said it would not intervene or prevent the $6.1 billion deal.

The acquisition includes a side agreement that will see a large chunk of Viterra's business sold to two other Canadian companies.

Calgary-based Agrium (TSE:AGU) and privately-held Richardson International, based in Winnipeg, will buy Viterra's Canadian assets for $2.6 billion in cash.

Viterra, formed by the merger of the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool and Agricore United, is a grain handler, marketer and food processor with operations across Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and China.

Shares of Viterra rose 0.19 percent to $16.14 on the Toronto Stock Exchange Tuesday.

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