October 28, 2010 / 11:14 AM / in 7 years

UPDATE 3-Bunge profit tops estimates; revenue misses

* Q3 adj EPS $2.26 vs Street view $1.57

* Q3 revenue misses forecasts

* Says will meet or exceed full-year earnings guidance

* Sees better oilseed margins in Q4

* Shares down 4 percent (Updates; adds CFO comment, share price, byline)

By Karl Plume

CHICAGO, Oct 28 (Reuters) - Agricultural processor Bunge Ltd (BG.N) reported higher-than-expected quarterly operating profit and said it was on track to meet or beat its full-year target amid improving oilseed processing margins.

Third-quarter revenue fell short of Wall Street estimates, but the company said it anticipates a strong fourth quarter.

Net profit was $212 million, or $1.36 per share, down from $232 million, or $1.62 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, earnings were $2.26 per share, above analysts’ average view of $1.57, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose to $11.66 billion from $11.3 billion. Analysts’ average forecast was $12.48 billion.

Bunge held its full-year earnings guidance unchanged at $3.25 to $3.50 per share after cutting guidance in each of the previous two quarters. It said it expected a strong fourth quarter and could meet or beat that full-year target.

“The U.S. harvest is progressing very well, global trade in agriculture will be strong, and we expect very good margins and volumes in our grain business as we see product move from the western hemisphere, particularly into Europe due to the crop issues there,” said Interim Chief Financial Officer Drew Burke.

“While there is still some pressure on the crush margins, they have been slowly moving up and we have seen that will continue as the North America harvest moves along,” he said.

Shares of the White Plains, New York-based company, which soared 33 percent in the third quarter and have climbed further this month, were down 4 percent in afternoon trading.

AGRIBUSINESS STRONG

Bunge’s agribusiness segment -- its largest -- posted a $313 million profit in the third quarter, up 10 percent from a year earlier, as strong results in grain merchandising more than offset pressure from weak oilseed processing margins.

Its sugar and bioenergy business posted a profit of $34 million, up from $10 million a year ago, amid strong demand and helped by the acquisition of Brazilian sugar miller Moema earlier this year.

Edible oil products earnings slipped 14 percent to $30 million, while milling products profit jumped to $39 million from $7 million.

Bunge’s fertilizer segment swung to a $14 million profit from a year-earlier loss of $127 million.

Bunge shares were down $2.54 to $59.16 in afternoon trade on the New York Stock Exchange. They rose as high as $63.01 earlier in the day, their best level in nearly seven months. (Reporting by Karl Plume; Editing by Derek Caney, Maureen Bavdek and John Wallace)

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