Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=178859
Story Retrieval Date: 5/25/2013 7:41:04 AM CST
Corn Products International Inc./Moran Zhang/ MEDILL
Corn Products International Inc.’s fourth quarter profit dropped 8 percent on one-time items related to the acquisition of National Starch, but the company’s adjusted earnings exceeded Wall Street expectations by a wide margin.
The Westchester-based corn processor reported lower fourth quarter profit of $52 million, or 67 cents per diluted share, for the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with $56.3 million, or 74 cents, in the year-earlier period.
Excluding charges resulting from the acquisition and integration of National Starch, Corn Products would have earned $1.05 per share. Analysts polled by Zacks Investment Research Inc. were expecting 73 cents per diluted share.
Net sales increased 47 percent to $1.41 billion from $959 million in the same period a year ago.
For the full year, Corn Products earned $169.2 million, or $2.20 per diluted share, more than quadruple the $41.1 million, or 54 cents per diluted share, it earned in 2009. Sales rose 19 percent to $4.37 billion from $3.67 billion in 2009.
“2010 was a strong year for our operations,” said Ilene Gordon, CEO of Corn Products International, during an earnings conference call with analysts. “We are very pleased with the acquisition of National Starch and the incremental growth opportunities that come with it.”
By acquiring National Starch, Corn Products International branched out into Europe for the first time, and European sales represented 5 percent of the company’s total fourth-quarter sales.
“National Starch has obviously been the homerun for Corn Products International,” said Jeffrey Farmer, an analyst at Jefferies & Co. Inc. And it came at a perfect time, he added.
Ian Horowitz, a Rafferty Capital Markets Inc. analyst stated that the acquisition had “taken everyone by surprise”, and has made Corn Products “a different company.”
According to Horowitz, as the two companies become more intertwined and integration costs begin to fade, National Starch should become a much better contributor to Corn Products’ bottom line.
“Looking forward to 2012 and beyond, this [acquisition] will continue to be a huge win for them in terms of strategy,” he said.
Corn Products raised its 2011 net sales guidance to $6 billion, and it is expecting to earn between $3.60 and $3.90 earnings per share.
“Their guidance appears conservative,” said Farmer, pointing that out as part of the reason why the company’s stock did not react strongly. “Mostly on the Street, the buy side is probably already at $4 [a share] for 2011.”
Even though corn prices have moved higher, Horowitz thinks Corn Products is well positioned.
“We are expecting a higher commodity environment in general,” Horowitz said. “But the company is hedged for the year, so corn price shouldn’t be an impact for them.”
Corn Products’ stock closed at $50.45 Thursday, up $1.85 or 3.8 percent.