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Viterra boosted by record Australian crop



Grain handler Viterra Inc. reported higher first-quarter profits on Wednesday, attributing the strong performance to a record crop in Australia.

The company said its earned $99.6-million or 27 cents per share for the quarter ended Jan 31 compared with $10.7-million, or 3 cents per share, during the same period a year earlier.

The earnings beat the 21 cents per share analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had on average been expecting.

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Sales and other operating revenue was $2.5-billion, versus $1.8-billion during the first quarter of 2010. That figure, too, beat the average analyst estimate of $2.2-billion.

In a release, Viterra said South Australia harvested a record crop during the quarter, contributing $116-million to its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, compared with the $67-million it added one year ago.

In North America, fertilizer pricing and sales, along with contributions from Viterra's newly acquired food processing businesses, also bolstered its bottom line.

"With tightening supply and demand fundamentals, rising commodity prices and the associated food security issues that are now at the forefront for many nations, we recognize the importance of agriculture in the global economy and the role that Viterra plays in delivering quality ingredients to customers around the world," chief executive officer Mayo Schmidt said in a statement.

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