Global agribusiness and food company Bunge cut its full-year earnings guidance today (23 April) as it posted a quarterly net loss of US$195m.

For the quarter ended 31 March, Bunge booked a net loss of $1.76 a share, compared with a year-earlier profit of $289m, or $2.10 a share.

The company cut its full-year 2009 earnings guidance to $4.90 to $5.40 per share, from its previous range of $6.90 to $7.40 a share, blaming “lower than planned” first-quarter results and a “more challenging” near-term pricing environment in fertilizer.

Net sales dropped to $9.19bn, down 26% from the same quarter a year ago.

Alberto Weisser, Bunge’s chairman and CEO, said the start to 2009 was “more challenging than expected”.

The company said retail fertilizer margins in Brazil suffered from aggressive price reductions by competitors, which drove sales prices below international levels.

Despite a difficult start, Weisser said its confidence in a recovery in its markets and a solid performance in the second half of the year remains “strong”.

“We are working through our higher cost fertilizer inventory, and the supply of fertilizer products in the Brazilian retail channel has been reduced by approximately 30% since the end of 2008 and is approaching historical seasonal levels. Both of these facts should improve margins as the year progresses,” Weisser said.