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Profit, revenue at record for Andersons in 2007

Thanks to a hefty grain harvest and having started a second ethanol plant, The Andersons Inc. posted record annual profit and revenues yesterday.

The Maumee agribusiness, one of the better-known big businesses in the area, said it had a profit of $69 million, or $3.75 a share, nearly doubling last year's record profit of $36 million, or $2.19 a share. It had revenues of $2.4 billion, compared with $1.5 billion a year earlier.

The record profit was its fourth consecutively. The firm has benefited from its diversity, with grain, fertilizers, general stores, a rail car business, and ethanol production for an alternative vehicle fuel.

"Our grain and ethanol and plant-nutrients groups achieved phenomenal income growth this year, and the rail group maintained solid performance despite some tightening in the rail industry," said Mike Anderson, company chief executive.

The leap in revenues means the company could be the metro area's fifth largest this year, up from eighth last year.

The Andersons' revenues swelled mainly from its investment in an ethanol plant in Clymers, Ind., that went into operation in 2007. The firm had an investment in a plant near Albion, Mich., and is building one in Greenville, Ohio, that is to start next week.

It manages the plants, sells grain to the refiners, and arranges for the corn-based fuel additive to be sold through existing contracts with gasoline producers.

The firm's profit from the plants, which are considered separate on its books, was $32 million last year, up from $8 million in 2006, said Gary Smith, the firm's treasurer.

Its general stores reported less than a 2 percent growth in sales at $180 million, and same-store sales were down 1 percent because of an impairment charge.

For the fourth quarter, the firm said it had a record profit of $23.5 million, or $1.28 a share, compared with $14 million, or 76 cents a share, for the same period a year earlier. Its sales were $785 million, up from $463 million a year ago.

- Jon Chavez

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