“Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully,” James Boswell quotes Samuel Johnson as saying upon the occasion of the hanging of William Dodd in 1777 for a loan scam.
CEOs don’t (often) face hanging. In their case it’s often the appearance of an unwanted corporate suitor that brings new energy and focus to the job of running a company.
So it seems with Bunge (BG), the world’s largest processor of oilseed and a leading merchant of corn soybeans, and wheat. The company issued a profit warning for the second quarter on July 19 that cited unprecedented levels of crop hoarding by South American farmers looking for better prices.
But the big story in the warning was the one that CEO Soren Schroder didn’t mention: An unsolicited approach from the agriculture arm of commodities giant Glencore as that company looks to expand into agriculture in partnership with two Canadian pension funds.
Suddenly Schroder was stressing the company’s big opportunity to cut costs with plans to reduce its $1.35 billion in annual selling, general, and administrative (SG&A) expenses by $250 million by the end of 2019. And the company has said that it will cut capital spending for 2018 to $650 million from an earlier estimate of $850 million.
Bunge’s shares have spun through wild swings in 2017 (with Bunge hitting $67.04 on May 3 and then jumping to $83.22 on May 25) even though the stock is up 11.56% for the year as of the July 25 close. (The shares are up 34.58% over the last 12 months.)
Glencore’s interest is a reminder of how valuable Bunge’s core business can be–so I’m keeping the stock in my long term 50 Stocks Portfolio. As of the July 25 close at $80.59, the shares are up 60.9% since I added them to this portfolio back on December 30, 2008 at $50.08 a share.