Agco CEO says food inflation is here to stay

CEO Eric Hansotia of agriculture-machinery manufacturer Agco told CNBC’s Jim Cramer on Friday that elevated grain prices — and the high cost of food — will persist, even if Russia’s invasion of Ukraine ended tomorrow.

Both Russia and Ukraine serve as major global grain suppliers, with the latter often referred to as the “breadbasket of Europe,” and so when the war broke out in February 2022 it sent the world’s food supply chain into turmoil.

When Hansotia sat down with “Mad Money” last March, he told Cramer “13% of the global calories came out of production” when Russian and Ukraine borders shut down.

Coupled with climate issues — namely droughts across Europe and North America — the food supply chain disaster spurred by the Russia’s invasion is not likely to fade anytime soon, according to Hansotia.

“Even if [the war] were to end tomorrow, there’s a long-standing degradation in the ability for that area to grow crops, and so it’s going to be with the market for quite some time,” he said.

Despite grain supply chain issues, Agco — which sells big-ticket agriculture equipment like tractors and combines — recently reported a successful quarter. The company raised its full-year forecast substantially, and net sales hit $3.3 billion, beating the consensus estimate of $3.16 billion.

Even so, Agco’s sales have fallen roughly 15% from their post-quarter high.

But Hansotia reaffirmed a strong demand for Agco’s products well into next year, highlighting grain’s declining stock-to-use ratio coupled with decreasing production costs for farmers.

“The stocks-to use-ratio — essentially how much grain is in the market — has been coming down for six years in a row,” Hansotia told Cramer.

“That’s one of the best indicators of how much demand is going to be out there, that is a buoy for grain prices. At the same time, the input cost for our farmers, diesel, fertilizer, and other things — are actually coming down, and these are costs that can be locked in for next year.”

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