Archer Daniels Midland (ADM ) dropped from 56 in May to 32 on Jan. 31, and investors who were betting on strong demand for ethanol feel let down. But not Carl Birkelbach, president of Birkelbach Investment Securities, which owns shares. He sees ADM shooting back to 46 this year. "ADM is attractive, especially at this price, because of many things other than ethanol," he says. "It had gone up too far, too fast, when the big institutions jumped in, to get out of their oil holdings," he notes. Now ADM has gone back down just as fast, despite improving earnings, says Birkelbach. With 250 plants worldwide, ADM processes raw corn, soybeans, and wheat into ingredients for food manufacturing. Joseph Agnese of Standard & Poor's (MHP ) rates it a buy and sees faster earnings growth through 2007, partly due to biofuel demand. He expects profits of $2.50 a share in 2007 vs. $2 in 2006.
Note: Unless otherwise noted, neither the sources cited in Inside Wall Street nor their firms hold positions in the stocks under discussion. Similarly, they have no investment banking or other financial relationships with them.
By Gene G. Marcial