Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ethanol: Archer Daniels Midland Profit Soars and Comments on the Wheat Market (ADM)

The stock is up 1.17% at $28.65.
We know this one too well* to be fans, our view is that their corporate motto should be "Oderint dum metuant".
("Let them hate us so long as they fear us", attributed to either the Emperor Tiberius or Caligula)
From the Wall Street Journal:

Archer Daniels Midland Co.'s earnings soared on stronger margins as its agricultural and bioproducts businesses returned to the black amid lower commodities prices, and as demand continued to improve.
Demand for agricultural commodities has been improving from last year's slumping levels. However, ethanol and corn-syrup prices have remained weak....

...ADM's much smaller bioproducts division—which includes ethanol— returned to a profit on stronger ethanol and lysine margins. Sweeteners and starches business profit fell 20% as lower average selling prices were only partly offset by lower corn prices.

The oilseed business, ADM's largest by volume, saw profit soar 58% on stronger volume....MORE
From Dow Jones via Automated Trader:
ADM: Impact From Russia Wheat Crop A "Moving Target"

Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM) said Tuesday it is too soon to know whether its agricultural services segment will benefit from increased demand for wheat exports due to the troubled Russian crop.
Supplies for wheat and other grains are more comfortable now than they were in 2007 and 2008, when grain prices soared amid surging demand and declining supplies, said John Rice, executive vice president for commercial and production.

He added that the Russian situation is a "moving target," as one day it appears Russia will halt wheat exports because of its smaller, drought-plagued crop, while the next day it appears exports will continue. It remains unclear on how the crop there will turn out, he said....MORE
*Back in March 2007 we told the story of ADM's lobbying prowess in "Ethanol, Rent-seeking, ADM and God":
In 1995 The Cato Institute put their imprimatur on a paper that said each dollar of Archer Daniels Midland's ethanol profit cost the American taxpayer $30. This wasn't quite fair, as it ascribed all government subsidy costs to ADM's lobbying efforts.

Dwayne Andreas was a prodigious lobbyist. 

This from SourceWatch: "A Watergate-era investigation led to criminal charges that he had illegally contributed $100,000 to Humphrey's 1968 campaign for President, but Andreas was acquitted. And his $25,000 cash donation to President Richard M. Nixon's re-election bid in 1972 became a focus of Watergate inquiry into abuses surrounding unreported campaign money. According to an investigative memo uncovered in 1992 that quotes President Nixon's personal secretary Rosemary Woods, Andreas delivered $100,000 in $100 bills to the White House shortly before the 1972 election."
I've looked at love from both sides now.

Mr. Andreas' motivation was higher than just rent-seeking for ADM, The Washington Post noted in 1985 that "Andreas said he was raised in a religious tradition that called for 'tithing' 10 percent of personal income to the church. And, he adds, 'I consider politics to be just like the church.'"

A back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that the cost to the taxpayer for each dollar of ADM's ethanol profit is down to $2.85. The current round of subsidies are set to expire in 2010.