PARIS, April 3 (Reuters) - Louis Dreyfus’ core earnings fell further last year as the global agricultural commodity trader again faced pressure from an abundant supply of crops.
Large inventories, low prices and limited volatility have curbed margins in the past two years for companies such as Louis Dreyfus that buy, transport and process crops like wheat, soybeans and rice.
The privately owned company said 2016 core operating profits for its business segments fell to $1.2 billion from $1.4 billion in 2015, marking a second successive annual drop.
Net sales fell to $49.8 billion from $55.7 billion in 2015, while shipped volumes were stable at 81 million tonnes, Louis Dreyfus said in a statement on Monday.
Net income, however, rose to $305 million from $211 million, supported by favourable tax effects.
“Oversupply, market shocks, geopolitical dynamics and adverse weather conditions were some of the difficulties that the agribusiness industry had to face during 2016,” said Chief Executive Officer Gonzalo Ramirez Martiarena.
“Market fundamentals are unlikely to be very different in 2017, so our agility in adapting to changing market conditions will remain critical,” he said.
Dreyfus is part of the so-called ‘ABCD’ quartet of trading giants alongside Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge and Cargill, that dominate global flows of agricultural commodities.
Like its peers, Dreyfus has been reorganising its activities and last year set out plans to seek partners to invest in its fertiliser, metals, juice and dairy businesses.
Dreyfus has also reined in capital investments, which last year fell to $354 million from $420 million in 2015, to help weather tougher trading conditions.
The group expected the effects of its restructuring to start showing through in its results from next year, Ramirez said.
Rivals such as ADM and Cargill have also seen earnings from trading activities decline, although better performances at other units have helped boost their group profits in recent quarters.
Louis Dreyfus is controlled by Margarita Louis-Dreyfus, who also chairs the company’s board. (Reporting by Gus Trompiz; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)