* Q4 loss 21 cents per share, vs year-ago loss of $1.89
* Fertilizer loss, agribusiness weaker than expected
* FY 2010 EPS outlook $5.75 to $6.25
* Shares down 4.3 pct
(Adds analyst quote, updates stock activity)
By Karl Plume
CHICAGO, Feb 4 Bunge Ltd (BG.N) reported a
fourth-quarter net loss on Thursday as its fertilizer segment
continued to lose money and agribusiness results were weaker
than expected, sending its shares down more than 4 percent.
The results overshadowed Bunge's 2010 profit outlook, which
an analyst said appeared to be better than expected.
Vincent Andrews of Morgan Stanley said he expected
investors to focus on Bunge's fourth-quarter weakness in
agribusiness against Archer Daniels Midland Co (ADM.N).
The rival agribusiness, which has a smaller footprint in
South America, reported stronger-than-expected results this
week amid strong profits in grain and oilseed processing and
However, "Bunge is likely to be better positioned than ADM
in 2010 due to a much larger South American crop
year-over-year," Andrews noted.
Bunge said its fourth-quarter net loss narrowed to $28
million, or 21 cents per share, after charges from convertible
preference share dividends. The year-earlier loss was $210
million, or $1.89 per share.
Revenue fell to $10.44 billion from $10.94 billion, missing
analysts' estimates of $10.77 billion, according to Thomson
Poor fertilizer margins and lackluster sales in South
America because of tight credit and lower farm incomes due to
drought-reduced production hit Bunge hard in 2009.
"In 2009, fertilizer generated significant losses, which
stemmed from a difficult market characterized by high-cost
inventory and a weak price environment," Bunge Chief Executive
Officer Alberto Weisser said.
Bunge said its fertilizer loss had narrowed to $174 million
from $289 million a year earlier. It was the fifth consecutive
quarterly loss for the unit, the largest producer and supplier
of fertilizer in South America last year.
Bunge agreed last month to sell its Brazilian fertilizer
assets to mining company Vale (VALE5.SA). [ID:nN27166536]
Bunge's agribusiness segment posted a profit of $60
million, compared with a year-earlier loss of $86 million, but
results were weaker than expected.
Tight global soybean supplies due to a drought in South
America helped Bunge's U.S. and European oilseed businesses
turn profits, but those were largely offset by losses in South
American grain origination, oilseed processing and
Edible oils profit totaled $114 million, compared with a
year-earlier loss of $47 million. Milling products earnings
were unchanged at $18 million.
Bunge said it had a positive outlook for 2010, forecasting
full-year earnings of $5.75 to $6.25 per share, assuming it
completes a deal announced in December to acquire Brazilian
sugar and ethanol producer Moema.
Analysts on average were expecting profit of $5.80 this
year, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
"Record harvests in North America and projections for
record soybean production in South America, combined with an
improved global demand picture should result in higher volumes
for agribusiness and food and ingredients," Chief Financial
Officer Jacqualyn Fouse said.
She said improved fertilizer demand in Brazil and expected
profits from Bunge's expanded sugar and bioenergy units added
to the optimistic outlook.
Shares of Bunge were down 4.3 percent at $57.88 on
(Reporting by Karl Plume; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)