CHICAGO, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Bunge Ltd, one of the world's largest agricultural trading houses, said on Thursday it turned a profit in the fourth quarter and was "actively" reviewing its loss-making Brazilian sugar business.
The update on Bunge's sugar milling operations came after Chief Executive Officer Soren Schroder last year signaled plans to shed the business, which has suffered from poor crop weather and low global sugar prices.
"We are actively engaged in our strategic review to optimize the value of this business and have retained financial advisors to assist in the process," he said.
The company, a major agricultural force in South America, will keep trying to reduce costs in the segment, Schroder said on Thursday.
Bunge reported net earnings of $115 million, or 78 cents per share, compared with a year-earlier net loss of $610 million, or $4.17 per share.
Adjusted earnings from continuing operations were $1.35 per share, compared with 50 cents a year earlier.
Revenue fell to $16.38 billion from $17.04 billion.
Analysts expected earnings of $2.15 a share on revenue of $16.15 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Net sales dropped in the agribusiness segment, Bunge's largest business, and in its sugar segment. The company recorded about $10 million in restructuring and impairment charges related to "improving the cost structure" of Brazilian sugar milling operations.
"The quarter was a messy one below the line, but operating performance was decent," JP Morgan analyst Ann Duignan said.
Oilseed processing margins were stronger in North America, Europe and China due to robust demand, large harvests and a lack of exports from South America, which is typically a large oilseed supplier, according to Bunge.
Global demand should remain strong because falling crop prices will encourage livestock producers to buy oilseeds, which can be crushed into animal feed, Chief Financial Officer Drew Burke said.
Bunge is among the four large players known as the "ABCD" companies that dominate the flow of agricultural goods around the world. The others are Archer Daniels Midland Co, Cargill Inc and Louis Dreyfus Corp.