ADM profit up on tight supplies

CHICAGO — Exceptional growth in the company’s Nutrition business helped propel a first-quarter earnings surge at ADM.

Net earnings attributable to ADM in the first quarter ended March 31 totaled $1.05 billion, equal to $1.86 per share on the common stock, up 53% from $689 million, or $1.22 per share, in the same period a year ago.

Revenues for the first quarter increased 25%, climbing to $23.65 billion from $18.89 billion.

“What we saw in the first quarter was an extension and amplification of the factors that supported our growth in 2021,” Juan Luciano, chairman, president and chief executive officer of ADM, said during an April 26 conference call with analysts. “First was our team’s great execution. Exceptional growth in Nutrition and effective risk management exemplified how we continued to serve our customers and provide nutrition around the globe amid volatile market conditions and an inflationary environment. Second was an environment of tight supply and demand. We operated in the first quarter in a constrained supply environment for crops, mostly driven by the smaller South American crop, and for other products driven by some continued supply chain and labor availability issues. And we continued to see solid global demand across most of our products and in most regions. While the pandemic is not over, and we’re particularly monitoring the impact of rising cases and lockdowns in China, much of the world continued to emerge. Pent-up demand remained solid, even in the face of higher prices.”

Operating profit in the Ag Services and Oilseeds segment increased 30% in the first quarter of fiscal 2022, climbing to $1.01 billion from $777 million. Ag services profit rose 23% during the quarter to $258 million, while crushing profit increased 12% to $428 million from $382 million.

“Global trade results were higher, driven by strong performances in destination marketing and ocean freight,” said Vikram Luthar, chief financial officer. “North American origination margins and volumes were lower year-over-year, including approximately $75 million in negative timing effects, which will reverse in the coming quarters.”

Crushing, meanwhile, posted year-over-year gains driven by robust protein and vegetable oil demand, Mr. Luthar said.

Operating profit in the Carbohydrate Solutions segment increased 22% in the first quarter to $317 million. Starches and sweeteners profit increased 42% during the quarter, climbing to $316 million from $222 million. Vantage Corn Processors posted a profit of $1 million in the quarter, down sharply from $37 million in the same period a year ago.

“The starches and sweeteners subsegment, including ethanol production from our wet mills, delivered much higher results versus the prior-year quarter driven by higher corn core product revenues, improved citric acid profits and excellent risk management in North America, higher volumes and margins in EMEA and higher volumes and margins in wheat milling,” Mr. Luthar said. “Sales volumes for starches and sweeteners continued their recovery toward pre-pandemic levels.”

In the Nutrition segment operating profit increased 23% to $189 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2022, up from $154 million a year ago. Within the segment, human nutrition profit improved to $141 million from $128 million, while animal nutrition increased to $48 million from $26 million.

“Flavors continued to deliver solid revenue growth, offset by some higher costs,” Mr. Luthar said. “Strong sales growth in alternative proteins, including contributions from our soy protein acquisition and positive currency timing effects in South America, offset some higher operating costs to help deliver better year-over-year results in specialty ingredients. Health and wellness results were also higher year-over-year, powered by continued growth in probiotics, including our late 2021 Deerland probiotics acquisition and robust demand for fiber.”

Looking ahead, Mr. Luciano said ADM expects to see lower crop supplies caused by the weak Canadian canola crop, the short South American crops and disruption in the Black Sea region due to the war between Russia and Ukraine to drive continued tightness in global grain markets “through 2022, well into 2023 and perhaps beyond.” 

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