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Up next is agribusiness
Bunge(BG - Get Report), a $9.6 billion firm that bridges the gap in the commodity food chain. Bunge acts as a middleman between farmers and consumers, processing raw agricultural commodities on one side, and supplying farmers with products like fertilizer on the other.
When it comes to nearly any industry, it's worst to be the middleman. Not only do middlemen have the potential to get price squeezed from both sides, they also have partners looking over at their profitability wondering whether it makes sense to let a third party collect a payday when they could do it themselves.
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But Bunge's paper-thin margins have meant that the firm isn't fighting off too much competition right now. Instead, Bunge sees plenty of internal challenges from the ebb and flow of commodity prices. After unloading some of its more attractive businesses (such as phosphate mines where the firm isn't the middleman), it's susceptible to more ebb than flow.
That tenuous grasp on profitability means that Bunge has to dig into its cash reserves to support its operations and its 1.7% dividend yield when profitability is lacking.
To be clear, Bunge isn't burning cash in the traditional sense. By that I mean that BG
does make money from an accrual accounting standpoint, and its cash burn rate is relatively small. But Bunge's paper-thin margins at a time when soft commodities appear to be making a long-term top doesn't bode well.
I wouldn't own this stock right now.