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Published: Saturday, 5/10/2008

The Andersons fetes 60th anniversary

BY TED FACKLER
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Shareholders of The Andersons Inc. celebrated the firm's 60th year in business yesterday during the annual shareholders' meeting at the company's Maumee headquarters.

Chief Executive Officer Mike Anderson touted the firm's steady growth but cautioned the nearly 70 people in attendance that high grain and oil prices have put agriculture in unsteady and unprecedented times.

"We are in a very interesting and dynamic time right now that really plays to our role as a corn operator," Mr. Anderson said.

The industry has been especially lucrative in recent years as food shortages and federal mandates on ethanol production have driven up grain prices, but it may not last.

In February, the firm's third ethanol plant opened in Greenville, Ohio, and it has been lucrative, Mr. Anderson said. The firm will expand production at its two other plants but has no plans to build more facilities.

"We're 99 percent taking a breath, digesting what we've got," he said.

On Wednesday, the company reported a quarterly profit of $7.8 million, down from $9.2 million last year.

Net income may be down, but The Andersons is growing, shareholders were assured.

Mr. Anderson pointed to first-quarter revenues of $713 million, a 75 percent increase over the $407 million reported last year, and he attributed the revenue influx to the success of the firm's rail and plant nutrient group units.

The firm's grain and ethanol group division, which reported operating income of $2.2 million, down from $10.2 last year, was responsible for the lower profits this year. The weak showing is because of high grain and fertilizer costs, short-term debt, and the cash markets for corn, beans, and wheat not rising at the same pace as the futures market, Mr. Anderson said.

Revenues from The Andersons' retail stores were stagnant last year, despite a new specialty market in Sylvania. There are no plans to open more stores, Mr. Anderson said.

The company's shares, which trade on the Nasdaq, closed at $42.81 yesterday, down $1.57.

Afterward, The Andersons declared an 8.5-cent dividend for the upcoming third quarter, payable July 22 to shareholders of record as of July 1.

Contact Ted Fackler at: tfackler@theblade.com or 419-724-6199.



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