Bloomberg News

Bunge CEO Sees U.S. Corn, Soybean Acreage Expanding in 2012

February 09, 2012

Feb. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Bunge Ltd., the world’s second- largest oilseed processor, sees U.S. corn and soybean acreage expanding this year because of high grain prices.

“You should see more corn and soybean plantings,” Alberto Weisser, chief executive officer of White Plains, New York-based Bunge, said in a telephone interview today. “Prices are still at the levels which are very profitable.”

U.S. corn plantings rose to 91.9 million acres in 2011 from about 86 million acres in 2008, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. Soybean acreage dropped 3.1 percent to 75 million acres last year from 2010, USDA data shows. The department will make its initial forecast for 2012 plantings on Feb. 23.

Farmers planted more corn in the U.S. as futures contracts on the Chicago Board of Trade rose to a three-year high of $7.93 a bushel on June 9. While prices have fallen 19 percent during the past eight months, they are still above the 10-year average of $3.67 a bushel. Soybean prices have dropped 16 percent to $12.315 a bushel yesterday from a three-year high of $14.65 on Aug. 31.

Weisser said “tight” inventories are supporting prices and giving farmers an incentive to plant more crops. He declined to provide specific acreage forecasts.

World corn inventories will fall to 125.4 million tons from 128.1 million projected last month, the USDA said in a report today. Soybean stockpiles will total 60.28 million tons in the 12 months ending Sept. 30, down from 63.43 million forecast in January and 68.9 million a year earlier, the USDA said.

Bunge said today net income for the three months through Dec. 31 fell to $254 million, or $1.65 a share, from $301 million, or $1.95 a share, a year earlier as a smaller sugar cane crop in Brazil reduced sugar and ethanol production.

Bunge rose 5.4 percent to $62.96 at 2:15 p.m. in New York, after earlier rising as much as 6.6 percent, the most since September. Earnings exceeded the $1.53 average of 10 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Cargill Inc. is the world’s largest oilseed processor, according to Rabobank International.

--With assistance from Jeff Wilson in Chicago. Editors: Jasmina Kelemen, Tina Davis

To contact the reporter on this story: Shruti Singh in Chicago at ssingh28@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Casey at scasey4@bloomberg.net


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