Archer Daniels Midland revealed an emphasis on foreign
expansion, and an appetite for deals, despite the collapse of its attempt to
buy Australia's GrainCorp, as the bruised US agribusiness giant unveiled a
package of sweeteners to investors.
The ethanol-to-cocoa dealing group - one of the ABCD of big
agricultural traders with Bunge, Cargill and Louis Dreyfus – said that of the
$1.4bn it expected to invest in capital projects next year, "the majority"
would be spent outside the US.
The allocation comes despite the failure of the group's $3.1bn
acquisition of GrainCorp after the deal was blocked by the Canberra government,
a rejection which has caused considerable furore, although mainly in Australia
Joe Hockey, the Australian treasurer who made the decision
to reject the takeover, has attracted considerable criticism, but there has been
some pressure too on Don Taylor, the GrainCorp chief executive.
Patricia Woertz, the ADM chief executive, said that group
remained "confident and enthusiastic about the opportunities ahead", and
signalled that the group was still open to deals next year.
"Our strong balance sheet and solid cash flow generation
will allow for capital investments in growth projects with strong returns… and
still leave us sufficient ability to take advantage of strategic opportunities
that may arise in 2014," she said.
However, the group was also to return extra cash to
shareholders, revealing a 26% jump, from 19 cents per share to 24 cents per
share, in its dividend, which will take an increasing proportion of its
Ms Woertz said: "Historically, we have paid out
approximately 20-25% percent of earnings.
"Going forward we will aim for a range of 25-30%, thereby
allowing shareholders to participate more directly in the earnings stream of
Furthermore, ADM unveiled plans to buy back 18m shares by
the end of next year, valued at $725m at current prices.
"To the extent that ADM's credit metrics improve throughout
the year and the company receives significant proceeds from asset sales, the
company will consider further distributions to shareholders," the group added.
ADM shares stood 1.8% higher at $41.05 in midday deals in