But take another look. Not only would you miss a likely turnaround, but you'd also miss out on the company's healthy 2.6% dividend yield. What's more, Archer Daniels Midland has consistently paid shareholders dividends since 1927 and has even delivered a hike for the last 39 years, consecutively.
In fact, Archer Daniels Midland looks like a great buy for investors right now.
On November 3, America's largest ethanol producer released its earnings scorecard; the stock soon nosedived to a low of $41.74, down nearly 10% from the previous day's close of $46.28.
First, let's unearth the true picture behind the earnings.
Not only were sales down 8% from the year-ago period (vis-à-vis a 16% decline last year) at $16.6 billion, they also trailed analyst estimates of $17.5 billion. The world's largest corn processor reported an earnings-per-share of 60 cents versus analyst estimates of 70 cents per share.
One of the principal causes for the slump was a struggling ethanol segment that's plagued by rising inventory and contracting margins. Cheaper gas prices on account of weak oil prices ate into the unit's operating profits (dipping 78% to $40 million). Further, the appreciating dollar made U.S. corn exports less attractive, dragging profits for the corn-processing segment down 62%.
However, despite these macroeconomic challenges, we still believe the stock is a good buy for long term investors. Here are three reasons why:
1. The long-term assurance of stability
Since the plunge, ADM is now trading close to its 52-week low of $40.66. Even after the disappointing earnings report, consensus estimates for the target price is at $51.36, a 20% upside potential.
At a forward price-to-earnings of 13.27, Archer Daniels Midland might be slightly expensive compared to agri-giant peers such as Bunge Limited, which is at 11.38, but it's cheaper than Ingredion Inc. at 15.26. While Ingredion impressed with its earnings, Bunge reported double digit percentage declines in revenue and profit.
Admittedly, Archer Daniels Midland is behind Bunge in terms of valuation -- it is, however, a more stable alternative. In terms of dividend yield, Archer Daniels Midland is way ahead, offering a yield of 2.6%, while Bunge and Ingredion are at 2.1% and 1.9%, respectively.ADM data by YCharts
2. Revival in demand and new markets
Archer Daniels Midland will soon add China to its export roster, raising hopes for robust demands from the fuel-guzzling Asian dragon. Juan Luciano, president and CEO of the company, expects an uptick of 1% to 1.5% in demand over 2016.
Luciano has also suggested that there are new markets waiting to be explored -- notably Brazil, where the expanding economy is driving prices for gasoline and by extension ethanol (ethanol is an additive to the fuel).
Globally the expected rise in oil prices (to $59 a barrel around 2016) will allow Archer Daniels Midland and other ethanol producers to charge more for the fuel additive.
3. Corporate expansion wave and the value proposition
Although not quite ready to bite the bullet, Archer Daniels Midland is closely monitoring its two dry mills, which process corn into ethanol and by-products for animal feeds. The company's management has a steadfast agenda -- if the plants fail to survive the challenges of the U.S. ethanol environment, alternate options would most definitely be considered. The company is resolute on delivering maximum value for its shareholders.
Eliminating businesses for shareholder value optimization is not new to Archer Daniels Midland. The company recently sold its cocoa business to Olam International Limited for $1.2 billion. It has also let go of other associate entities. The chocolates division was sold to Cargill and the South American fertilizer section was closed in order to reduce unnecessary flab and streamline the company's overall structure.
The company has carefully identified opportunities to grow inorganically as well; the most noteworthy among these buyouts is the joint venture with animal feed manufacturer Quality Liquid Feeds, the acquisition of the European bottling company AOR N.V., the purchase of corn wet mills in Bulgaria and Turkey, and the successful integration of its acquisition of food flavor producer WILD Flavors.
Archer Daniels Midland isn't out of the woods as yet. But given it's continuous commitment to growth and shareholder value creation, the stock deserves its space in your portfolio. Hang onto Archer Daniels Midland and bear witness to its gradual resurgence.
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