Agribusiness giant Bunge Limited has reported record volumes, gross profit, income from operations and net income for fiscal year 2001.

The 2001 net income was US$134m, or US$1.87 per share, representing an increase of US$1.68 per share over the net income of US$12m, or US$0.19 per share in 2000.

The Company's improved results were broad based, led by increases in results from virtually every business. For the year ended 31 December, 2001, compared to last year, Volumes grew 19% to 71.6 million metric tons. Gross profit increased 41% to US$963m and income from operations rose 78% to US$527m.

Fourth quarter 2001 net income was US$48m, or US$0.58 per share, representing an increase of US$0.42 per share over net income of US$10m, or US$0.16 per share, in the same period in 2000.

Bunge's 2001 overall performance reflected the continued strong growth in its agribusiness division. This growth was driven by global demand for soybean meal and oil, return of oilseed processing margins to historical norms and increased sales volumes in its international marketing operations and South American grain origination. Results from the fertilizer business reflect a full year's benefit from the April 2000 acquisition of Manah and Fosfertil, the integration of which has proceeded smoothly.

Alberto Weisser, Chairman and CEO, commented: "I am pleased to report that after several years of hard work during difficult market conditions we are beginning to harvest solid results. The agribusiness industry is experiencing a cyclical upturn and Bunge is performing better than ever.

"Our 2001 results were our best in the previous five years despite weakness in the global economy, currency devaluations in Brazil and Argentina and the adverse effects of the 11 September events.

"Several factors contributed to our growth, including a return of soybean processing margins to historic norms, higher sales volumes in our agribusiness operations, integration of our fertilizer acquisitions, reductions in funding costs brought about by our capital structure realignment and improvement in the corporate wide management of our working capital. The outlook for agribusiness is solid due to crush margins in line with normal levels. We continue to see limited increases in crush capacity and strong global demand for soybean products.

"In our food products division, wheat milling product volumes and wheat and corn milling product margins recovered in 2001. Our high-growth ingredients business continues its outstanding performance. As a result of global demand for our soy ingredient products, our plants are operating at high levels of capacity. Softness in the U.S. foodservice industry offset these positive trends in the food products division and adversely affected our North American bakery and edible oil product businesses. Our consumer products business in Brazil also suffered from a tough competitive environment."

Speaking of the company moving forward, Weisser said: "We are focused on building our corporate identity and culture. We strengthened the Bunge brand name by aligning the names of our subsidiaries. We now have a consistent streamlined corporate identity: Bunge North America, Bunge Alimentos (Brazil), Bunge Fertilizantes (Brazil), Bunge Global Markets and Bunge Argentina.

"Our corporate restructuring in Brazil will contribute both economically and in terms of our corporate culture. The consolidations of our businesses and management cost reduction programs over the last few years have improved results. We are evaluating expansion and alliance opportunities to augment our current global operations, especially in our high growth value-added businesses."