Bunge raises outlook as agribusiness profits beat Wall Street estimates

Reuters – Agricultural commodities trader Bunge Ltd on Wednesday raised its full-year outlook after its second-quarter profit handily beat Wall Street estimates, sending shares up more than 5 percent in premarket trading.

Despite a worsening coronavirus pandemic that has rattled global markets, strong soy processing margins in South America, Europe and Asia and accelerated crop sales by farmers in Brazil and the United States helped lift earnings.

“These results would be strong in any environment, let alone a pandemic,” Chief Executive Greg Heckman said in a statement.

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Bunge’s strong second quarter, following a surprise loss in the first, highlighted the disruption the agribusiness industry has faced during the pandemic.

Shuttered restaurants and food service companies, both major customers for Bunge’s cooking oils, have shifted demand to more at-home dining, while travel restrictions hammered biofuel production margins.

Bunge said its facilities worldwide continue to operate at or near-normal levels despite the pandemic. Operations at an Argentine port facility were suspended this week after a worker tested positive for COVID-19, prompting Bunge to shift soybean deliveries to its other locations.

Operating earnings in Bunge’s agribusiness segment, its largest unit in terms of revenues and volumes, grew four-fold in the second quarter, triggering the improved 2020 outlook. Edible oils, milling and fertilizer units also posted gains, while sugar and bioenergy turned in a quarterly loss.

The oils segment, however, will continue to face challenges from uncertain demand due to the pandemic, Bunge said.

Net income available to shareholders was $521 million, or $3.47 per share, in the three months ended June 30, compared with $214 million or $1.43 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned $3.88 per share, above analysts’ average estimate of $1.32 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Revenue of $9.46 billion missed estimates of $9.70 billion.

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