Land O'Lakes, Inc. Reports 13 Percent Net Sales Gain In First Quarter

Land O'Lakes, Inc., reported strong first-quarter results, with net sales up 13 percent and record-high first-quarter net earnings of $101 million. Land O’Lakes also reported the company’s recent upgrade to Investment Grade status by Moody’s Investors Service.

 Company officials said this strong performance was driven by a combination of factors, including improved agricultural markets, the strength of the Land O’Lakes brands, impressive results from innovative new products, and strategic actions that are making Land O’Lakes more competitive and profitable.

• Net Sales Up $400 Million: Net sales for the quarter increased 13 percent to $3.47 billion, compared with $3.07 billion for the first quarter of 2010. Net sales were up in the company’s dairy foods, feed and crop inputs businesses, and relatively flat in the eggs business.
• Record-High First-Quarter Net Earnings: The company reported improved earnings in all its businesses, with overall first-quarter net earnings of $101.0 million, up from $30.9 million in the first quarter of 2010. 
• Balance Sheet Strength Maintained / Debt Ratings Upgraded: Land O’Lakes maintained a strong balance sheet, with the long-term debt-to-capital ratio improving to 31 percent (versus 34 percent at the end of the first quarter one year ago), and total equity increasing by $115 million. Total debt increased to $1.15 billion (as of March 31, 2011) from $0.94 billion on the same date in 2010, due primarily to higher working capital needs related to increased pricing levels and business volume. The company was upgraded to investment grade status by Moody’s Investors Service on May 9, 2011.

 Land O’Lakes President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Policinski said in a prepared statement: “We’re pleased with our first-quarter results. Sales were up in our core businesses, improved markets were beneficial to our financials, and we’re delivering on our commitment to operate in a very effective, cost-efficient manner.” 

Policinski noted Land O’Lakes continued to make solid progress in implementing total margin management (TMM), an ongoing, company-wide initiative that is enabling the cooperative to reduce costs, expand margins and simplify business processes. TMM delivered more than $50 million in benefits in 2010, and is being accelerated in 2011. 

“By applying the principles of TMM, Land O’Lakes is organically generating funds to promote strategic, profitable growth. This helps us create competitive advantage and positions us for the future,” Policinski noted. “The steps we’re taking will enable us to continue to be an industry leader in providing innovative, branded products and services to consumers and our business customers, which, in turn, will enable us to deliver strong returns to our member-owners.”

Other actions that are promoting strong performance include product mix adjustments, to better align Land O’Lakes product portfolio with demand in the marketplace; a continued focus on cost control; effective inventory and risk management; and pursuing high-potential opportunities in emerging markets.

“Land O’Lakes is on a growth trajectory. We’re not growing just to get bigger. We’re growing strategically to become more profitable and to capitalize on opportunities that will position us for continued success in the future,” Policinski said. “Our strong performance in 2010 and our record earnings in the first quarter of 2011 are good indicators that we’re on the right track. The strategy for Land O’Lakes can be summed up in three words – continued profitable growth.”