Land O’Lakes posted a bang-up 2012, returning $113 million to its farmer members amid strong gains in its animal feed and herbicide segments,the company said Tuesday.
The Arden Hills-based cooperative’s payout marked the fourth consecutive year in which members got more than $100 million. And its performance is another reminder of the good times for much of the U.S. agriculture business.
Land O’Lakes, the nation’s second-largest cooperative, recorded 2012 net sales of $14.1 billion, up 10 percent over a year ago’s $12.8 billion. Net earnings clocked in at $241 million, up 31 percent over 2011.
Land O’Lakes’ Winfield Solutions division, which sells herbicides, insecticides and other crop inputs, had a notably strong year, boosted partly by a new branding strategy and warmer weather that increased demand. Winfield’s sales of $4.7 billion were up 18 percent over a year ago, while pretax profits of $228 million were 62 percent higher.
Land O’Lakes Purina animal nutrition segment was buoyed by new branding strategies and products, as well as a key acquisition. Its sales totaled $4.6 billion, up 15 percent, while pretax earnings were $31 million, an increase of 63 percent.
In dairy foods, Land O’Lakes sales of $4.2 billion were down 4 percent over 2011, but pretax profits rose 34 percent to $38 million. New retail products helped the dairy segment.
However, the company’s egg business, Moark, lost $34 million in 2012 compared to a $3 million loss a year earlier, even though egg sales rose 23 percent to $735 million, a record.
High feed costs — the result of soaring grain prices — hit the egg business hard, as did lower market prices for some types of eggs.
Land O’Lakes, a farmer-owned cooperative, is scheduled to have its annual meeting Wednesday.