Louis Dreyfus Commodities Profit Climbs on Cost Cuts; Sales Fall

Louis Dreyfus Commodities BV, a closely held commodities trader, said profit jumped 25 percent last year, helped by cost cuts and currency-exchange gains even as sales fell on lower prices for coffee and cotton.

Net income from continuing operations rose to $1.1 billion from $879 million in 2011, Louis Dreyfus said in a report on its website. Sales dropped 0.9 percent to $57.1 billion.

The company and its peers have sought to lower costs to bolster balance sheets as slowing global growth curtails commodity demand, weighing on prices. Cotton futures fell 18 percent in New York last year, while Arabica coffee futures slumped 37 percent.

“The reduction of 1 percent in net sales was mainly due to a globally lower price environment compared to historically high prices in 2011,” Louis Dreyfus said.

The proteins business, which includes grain and oilseeds trading, boosted operating profit by 20 percent to $1.09 billion, according to the report. In the tropicals unit, which includes coffee and cotton as well as sugar, operating earnings fell to $844 million from $915 million.

Commercial and administrative expenses retreated to $755 million from $810 million. Finance costs fell to $195 million from $218 million as currency gains more than made up for increased interest spending, the company said.

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