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Tickers in this Article: ADM, BG, FDP
There's no business like the food business. According to the U.S. Census Bureau the current World Population is estimated at 6.7 billion people as of December 2008. While the population estimate is expected to grow, although at a slower rate than in the past, a total of 9 billion people are expected to inhabit the earth by 2040. The wherewithal to coordinate the massive responsibility of producing food for today and tomorrow will be shouldered by the agribusiness players investors should follow into 2009.

In this article we'll examine the top picks for the new year.

Archer Daniels Midland
The $69.8 billion Archer Daniels Midland (NYSE:ADM) is one of the world's largest processors of oil seeds and corn, along with being the largest supplier of ethanol in the U.S. Everything from a glass of orange juice at breakfast to a T-Bone steak for dinner may have in some way have been touched by the agricultural processing performed by ADM. As a users of commodities like coal and natural gas for the production of its goods, its profitability is affected both by the demand for its agricultural goods and the cost associated with producing those goods. ADM's net sales soared 59% for the fiscal year ending June 2008 driven by strong demand for vegetable oil, biodiesel and protein meal. Commodity prices have slumped ahead of 2009, but a price rebound and an increase in demand for food are factors driving ADM into 2009. (The demand for biodiesel may have helped them, but the jury is still out on whether or not these fuels will continue to be used. Learn more, in The Biofuels Debate Heats Up.)

Direct Competitor
Bunge Limited (NYSE:BG) also benefited from elevated commodity prices for corn, wheat and soybeans in 2007 helping the agribusiness competitor to generate $37.8 billion in net sales. Bunge reported a 60% increase in net sales for the first nine months of 2008 in comparison to the prior year. Bunge was able to boost its volumes and capitalize on reduced commodity exports originating from Argentina. Going into the 2009 a combination of low input costs and rising demand for fertilizer and food products will likely benefit Bunge along with ADM.

Fresh Fruit Alternative
For investors hoping to add fresh fruit to their diet, Fresh Del Monte Produce (NYSE:FDP) may be exactly what the portfolio doctor had in mind. Del Monte's mid-year acquisition of Caribana, which included high quality banana producer Desarollo Agroindustrial de Frutales and golden pineapple producer Frutas de Exportacion, allowed the firm to report $75.8 million positive growth in net sales for the third quarter of 2008. The acquisition and a potential shift of consumer tastes toward healthier foods could make Del Monte ripe for picking in the New Year.

Final Thoughts
It can be easy to take for granted the ability to head to the local grocery store to pick up whatever you desire, but it should not be forgotten it is a luxury not shared by all. For the spirit of the holidays a gift to a local food bank is in order, and for an investor's portfolio the addition of food related investments is one way to play the simple upward trend of global population.

To learn how to take advantage of price movements in this sector, read How To Invest In Commodities.

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