Peru’s Avocado King Sees Blueberries to the Rescue of Debt

  • Record blueberry output will ensure cash to pay maturing bonds
  • Camposol completed a debt restructuring to extend maturities

Peruvian agricultural company Camposol SA, the world’s largest avocado producer, says a jump in blueberry prices will help assure it has enough cash to make a $53 million bond payment in February.

"Our blueberry output has been exceptional," Chief Executive Officer Manuel Salazar said in an interview from Lima. "Volumes have been within target, but prices have been much higher” than anticipated.

Camposol, which also produces asparagus among other food crops, was compelled to restructure its debt earlier this year after adverse weather caused production to slump. Still, soaring blueberry and mango output in the first quarter allowed Camposol to post a 417 percent jump in adjusted earnings to $7.7 million. The company is counting on blueberry production tripling this year to about 13,000 tons to generate the cash flow needed for the bond payment, Salazar said.

Moody’s Inc. cut Camposol’s credit rating on Monday one level to Caa2, eight levels below investment grade, citing its tight liquidity situation. Camposol’s bonds have lost 11 percent since early April, the worst performance among all bonds from the Andes region after Pacific Exploration & Production Corp.

Camposol’s bonds due in 2017 are traded near 76 cents on the dollar as of 4:02 p.m. in New York, while notes due 2021 are trading near 87 cents on the dollar.

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