US agricultural commodities trader Bunge Ltd said its adjusted income rose more than three-fold in the first quarter from a year earlier as strong crop export demand and stout oilseed crushing margins bolstered its core agribusiness segment.
The company also raised its full-year 2021 adjusted earnings per share to about $7.50 per share from its earlier forecast of at least $6 per share after the stronger-than-expected quarter and amid 'positive market trends.'
"We are optimistic that the favourable demand environment in the first quarter will continue through 2021," chief executive officer Greg Heckman said in a statement.
Rising crop prices triggered heavy farmer sales of soybeans in the United States, while grain sales accelerated in North America and Australia, boosting crop volumes available to Bunge.
The company's agribusiness unit makes money buying, selling and processing crops, and shipping them from areas of surplus to areas of need.
Earnings in refined and specialty oils nearly doubled from a year earlier on improved demand from the North American food service sector as COVID-19 pandemic restrictions were gradually lifted. Bunge also noted strong demand in India before a worsening COVID-19 crisis triggered renewed restrictions.
Food And Fuel Demand
Bunge's results offered investors a snapshot of how the world's largest grain traders are beginning to emerge in some markets from the pandemic, which triggered large shifts in food and fuel demand as consumers cooked more meals at home and avoided travel.
The results mirrored strong earnings last week from rival Archer Daniels Midland Co, which forecast an uneven, years-long pandemic recovery.
Bunge's adjusted net income available for common shareholders rose to $471 million, or $3.13 per share, in the first quarter, from $139 million, or 91 cents per share, a year earlier, and above an average analyst estimate of $1.54 a share, according to Refinitiv data.
Revenue surged to $12.961 billion, topping an estimate of $10.350 billion.