Land O’Lakes reports increase in first quarter net earnings

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ARDEN HILLS, Minn. — Land O’Lakes, Inc. officials reported first-quarter 2009 net earnings of $82.7 million, up 35 percent from the first quarter of 2008 ($61.3 million).

Net sales

Net sales for the quarter were $2.9 billion, down from $3.3 billion for the same quarter one year ago.

For the quarter, the company reported Total EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization) of $112.8 million, compared with $109.3 million for the first quarter of 2008.

Normalized EBITDA for the quarter was $115.8 million, compared with $135.5 million in the first quarter of 2008.

Despite the current market turbulence, the company remains cautiously optimistic regarding its performance over the remainder of the year, and increased its guidance for 2009 full-year Normalized EBITDA from $345 million to $350 million.

Dairy foods

The company reported a pretax loss of $17.9 million in dairy foods for the quarter, compared with a pretax loss of $5.1 million in the first quarter of 2008.

Feed

Land O’Lakes reported $5.3 million in pretax earnings in feed for the quarter, down from $9.4 million for the first quarter of 2008. Feed sales for the quarter totaled $894 million, down from $942 million one year ago.

Layers/shell eggs

Slumping markets had a negative impact on earnings in the company’s layers/eggs business (conducted through its MoArk LLC subsidiary), with average shell egg prices for the quarter of $1.16/dozen, down 28 percent from the previous year ($1.62/dozen).

Seed

The seed business reported very strong sales and earnings, with sales of $775 million and pretax earnings of $86.5 million, up from $627 million and $43 million, respectively, for the first quarter of 2008.

Agronomy

The agronomy business, made up primarily of crop protection products, reported a $7.8 million pretax loss for the first quarter (historically a slow quarter for this business), versus a $9.2 million pretax loss one year ago.

Additional materials are available at www.landolakesinc.com.

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