No matter what you think of George Soros' politics, he has his nose in all the right places in the investment world. I've long bemoaned the lack of avenues to invest in farmland for the regular investors - indeed aside from Argentina based Cresud (NASDAQ:CRESY), I don't think there is another option - but this week's slate of IPOs brings us Adecoagro (NYSE:AGRO). This sort of thing won't be hot money, but if you give me a 40 year horizon, I say arable land (or water) will be the best investments on earth. And I'm not the only one:
- [Jun 5, 2008: NYTimes: Food is Gold, So Billions Invested in Farming]
- [Jun 14, 2008: Bloomberg: Farmland Reaps Bonanza for TIAA]
- [Jun 2, 2009: The Economist - Outsourcing's 3rd Wave - Buying Farmland Abroad]
- [Dec 31, 2009: Bloomberg - Ethopian Farmers Lure Investor Funds as Workers Live in Poverty]
Meanwhile I am sure all the attention in the short term will go to the hype machine that is the IPO of Digital Media.
The English website can be found here
Adecoagro is currently one of the leading companies in the production of food and renewable energy in South America. Present in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, our main activities include the production of grains, rice, oilseed, dairy products, sugar, ethanol, coffee, cotton and cattle meat.
Since its creation in 2002, the company´s growth was based on the implementation of a sustainable efficient production model, working on its own land and managing risk through diversification.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of exposure to the politically unstable country of Argentina, but that has not stopped investors from giving Cresud a rich valuation.
Bloomberg gives us a closer look at the company
- Adecoagro SA, a farmland venture in South America that’s backed by billionaire George Soros, plans to raise as much as $429 million in an initial public offering in the U.S. as food prices surge. As much as 21.4 million new and 7.14 million existing shares will be offered for $13 to $15 each, the Luxembourg-based company said today in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
- The company’s main shareholders include Pampas Humedas LLC, an affiliate of Soros’s Soros Fund Management LLC, which owns about 34 percent and will reduce its stake to about 21 percent after the offering.
- As part of the offering, a subsidiary of Qatar’s Doha-based sovereign fund, which already owns 6.5 percent of Adecoagro, may buy as much as $100 million of the stock. The IPO is scheduled to price on Jan. 27, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
- The company said in the filing it plans to use $230 million of the proceeds to build a sugar-cane processing plant in Brazil and may spend about $145 million on “the acquisition of farmland and capital expenditures required in the expansion of our farming business.”
- The new sugar mill in Ivinhema city, Brazil, will process 6.3 million tons of cane by 2017, more than doubling Adecoagro’s capacity to 11.5 million tons a year. The company said it may also use cash and more debt to fund the construction of the Ivinhema mill.
- Adecoagro grows rice, coffee, soybeans, wheat and corn in about 288,000 hectares (712,000 acres) of farmland, an area that’s bigger than Jacksonville, Florida. It owns 38 farms in Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay that’s valued at a combined $784 million, the filing said.
- Adecoagro said it owns 21 farms in Argentina, 15 in Brazil and two in Uruguay. It operates rice processing facilities, has a dairy operation with 4,500 cows, owns two coffee processing plants, seven grain and rice conditioning and store plants and two sugar and ethanol mills.
IPOFinancial per TheStreet.com has more data:
- The company has seen its sales explode, with a CAGR of 48% from 2007 to 2009 and +38% improvement in the first three quarters of the year. Among the key factors for growth has been sales in corn and soybean, which are up +112% and +77%, respectively, in the first nine months of 2010 from the comparable period in 2009. That being said, the largest segments by total revenue remain rice and ethanol, the latter of which will expand production following the allocation of IPO proceeds.
- At first glance, it may be puzzling as to why a company growing so fast, with a reasonable debt structure, is still not recording an accounting profit. In reality, AGRO has had to incur non-cash expenses that have skewed its earnings. Even though higher food and cattle prices have increased sales, the accounting benefit is somewhat offset because the markup in total inventory value has made depreciation expenses much higher.
- In the first nine months of 2010, it incurred more than $100 million in charges as a result of faster depreciation and amortization. It also ran into a problem in its sugar market last year, as sugar prices fell by 50% from their early 2010 high of $30 before making a late-year recovery to a 30-year high.