UPDATE 1-With Bunge Q1 loss, a trio of woe for global grain traders
(Recasts, adds background, quote, earnings details, byline)
By Karl Plume
May 1 (Reuters) - Harsh U.S. weather and geopolitical turmoil in Ukraine have humbled a third global grain trader as Bunge Ltd reported a surprise loss for the first quarter on Thursday, saying it had bet wrongly on a drop in wheat prices.
The world's biggest agricultural traders, including Archer Daniels Midland Co and Cargill Inc, were slammed by a series of exceptional events in the first part of the year, from a severe winter "polar vortex" in the United States to the rejection of corn imports in China.
Bunge, which swung to a $27 million loss in the three months through March 31, cited a 55 percent slump in its trading and distribution division as the biggest drag, saying that tumult in Ukraine had upended its strategy.
The company's shares fell 5 percent in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
"We expected a lower price environment, particularly in wheat, which did not materialize," Bunge Chief Executive Soren Schroder said. "Political turmoil in the Black Sea and deteriorating winter wheat conditions in the U.S. were the primary catalysts for the wheat rally, which ignored the more-than-adequate global stocks."
The three companies and Louis Dreyfus Corp - known as the ABCDs - dominate global grain trading and had been expected to benefit from bumper harvests just a year after the worst U.S. drought since the Dust Bowl days.
Instead, they have emerged as some of the most evident losers from this year's unexpected commodity market volatility, which has carved a sharp divide across the trading industry. Continuación...